Cahalen Morrison & Eli West

Our Lady Of The Tall Trees

(own label)

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With their superb debut, The Holy Coming Of The Storm, Cahalen Morrison and Eli West announced the arrival of a new force in American roots music. This follow-up confirms them as a major force, too, with a dozen songs and instrumentals so naturally attuned to the folk, country and gospel traditions that you'd be forgiven for mistaking Morrison and West for a couple of seasoned hayseeds from some deep Carolina hollow rather than twentysomethings from Seattle. Their own songs speak with the sort of hard-won wisdom that informed Levon Helm's final recordings and sit like peers alongside their covers of Townes Van Zandt's Loretta and Norman Blake's Church Street Blues. What makes this music so appealing, though, is the grainy conviction of Morrison and West's campfire harmonies and the way their guitar, mandolin and banjo dovetail with almost measured recklessness to make their tales of bar-room girls and prairie trails live emphatically, beautifully in the here and now.

Rob Adams