The Black Twig Pickers - Ironto Special

by Nathan Fidler Rating:4.5 Release Date:2010-09-20

Do you have a porch on which you jam with friends? Do you chew large stalks of corn? Fancy a hoe-down? Then this is an album for you, made up of mainly old time instrumentals, mined from the history of America's south.

There is so little to say about this selection of brief but solid songs. Banjos, mouth harps, fiddles and even washboards are used. The sound is instantly recognisable and is reasonably easy to enjoy. The trouble comes after the half way mark where the sound begins to grate and turn from fun-times into migraines. The fiddles screech over and over making it difficult to get to the end of the album. As masters of the multitude of instruments used they deserve praise, but knowing when to give the listener a break clearly isn't something they've thought about. The best songs come with lyrics - despite how sparingly they're used. The howl of "Payday, oh payday" on 'Last Payday at Coal Creek' is a riot because, let's face it, everyone loves payday. On other songs, we're asked to "lay ten dollars down" and "hang down your head and cry". This simple and raw use of melody really combines well with that deep south sound which is rooted so much in Appalachian history.

It's a shame there aren't more of the lyrically based songs and it's because there are very few original songs (only two out 15) that the album really can't garner a higher score. They clearly love their roots and their history, but with some songs of their own they ought to be more than able add to the genre's longevity rather than the nostalgia.

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