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From The Great American Songbook


2008 release. This second collaborative work from Tom Carter and Christian Kiefer is an expansive and ambitious recasting of American music now in the public domain. The influence of the songs collected here is long and widespread for their style and lyricism, forging a rich tradition and ever-evolving history. With their interpretations, Carter and Kiefer have taken the songs that have seeped into their souls and extended upon them in such a way that brings something entirely new to their original ideas. It's something that's entirely theirs in spite of such source material, and with that, From The Great American Songbook brilliantly reveals a true hallmark of American music invention. So, we have the infamous murder ballad "Pretty Polly," the comic "Camptown Races," the funereal "Will The Circle Be Unbroken," the outlaw tale of "Jesse James," the depression piece "Hard Time Killin' Floor Blues," the ragtime "The Entertainer" and the doomed love trysts of "Go Dig My Grave (Railroad Boy)" and "The Coo-Coo Bird." Carter and Kiefer have taken the spirit of these as a starting point for their spectral guitar improvisations, then fleshed them out with piano, percussion, bass and drums. In this thrillingly vast sonic terrain are moments of foreboding, tenderness, melancholy and gut-wrenching rawness. Two of Kiefer's longtime cohorts, Scott Leftridge and Chip Conrad played bass and drums respectively, while Califone's Ben Massarella handled percussion. Also contributing is a host of American musicians including Tony Conrad, James Jackson Toth, Glenn Jones, and Sharron Kraus. Christian Kiefer is a musician and songwriter with a varied and prolific history. His 2007 album Dogs & Donkeys featured the talents of Wilco's Nils Cline, Low's Alan and Mimi Sparhawk and The Band's Garth Hudson. Tom Carter is a member of Charalambides and similarly engages himself in many collaborations, including work with Thurston Moore, Bardo Pond and Robert Horton. Liner notes by Tony Conrad, Tim Rutili (Califone), James Jackson Toth (Wooden Wand), Tetuzi Akiyama, Sharron Kraus, Byron Coley, Sean Smith and Glenn Jones (Cul De Sac). Limited edition deluxe packaging featuring unique, award-winning design.