Tag Archives: Abigail Washburn

Songwriter Mix: Family Business

I love listening to music topically. Some days I’ll search my whole library for a single word and listen that way. It’s like a strange conversation–hearing different artists from different genres all chiming in about the same thing.

So I made a mix about family. In this mix, you’ll hear Kanye update his relatives in prison, the Avetts leave some last wishes, James Blake lament being an only child, and Rufus tackle daddy issues via cover song. We’ve also got a handful of variations on the ‘advice song’ trope: Drive-By Truckers’ iconic father-son lesson ‘Outfit’, Vienna Teng’s retelling of her grandmother’s less-than-welcome advice about men and careers, and The Coup’s outrageous ‘Wear Clean Draws’, in which Boots Riley’s passes on his anti-establishment politics to his daughter in a totally unique lesson on what it means to be a woman.

I hope you enjoy it, and feel free to suggest other family songs in the comments section!

A couple other highlights:

-my friend Reid Comstock has been making a splash lately with his psych-pop band Tiger Waves, and I included my favorite song from his 2008 folk project, Father Padraig & the Next of Kin. He wrote ‘Emily’s Funeral Song’ after losing his mother to cancer, and his performance of that song at a house concert a few years ago was powerful and I won’t forget it.

-for more on Mary Gauthier’s mother, check out this previous post on The Foundling.

-everyone knows and loves ‘My Girls’, but does everyone realize how unbelievably awesome it is? It’s entirely about a father’s concerns about providing for his family.

-‘Song for Mama’ isn’t an Abigail Washburn tune at all – its backstory remarkable enough that I’ll just link to it here and here.

-we have two crib-side lullabies: Sara Groves’ sweet, straightforward ‘You Cannot Lose My Love’ and Low’s much darker and creepier (though still kind of sweet) ‘In Metal’.

Note: I included two songs–Joanna Newsom’s ‘Emily’ and Sufjan Stevens’ ‘Djohariah’–that are ass-long, so feel free to skip those. The mix works either way. But they’re two incredible songs, each an epic ode to the artist’s sister.

Here’s the track list:

1. Kanye West – Family Business (from The College Dropout)
2. The Avett Brothers – Murder in the City (from The Second Gleam)
*3. Joanna Newsom  – Emily (from Ys)
4. Art Brut – My Little Brother (from Bang Bang Rock ‘n’ Roll)
5. James Blake – I Never Learnt to Share (from James Blake)
6. Mary Gauthier – Mama Here, Mama Gone (from The Foundling)
7. Rufus Wainwright – One Man Guy (Loudon Wainwright cover) (from Poses)
8. The Coup – Wear Clean Draws (from Party Music)
9. Drive-By Truckers – Outfit (from Decoration Day)
10. Vienna Teng – Grandmother Song (from Inland Territory)
11. Abigail Washburn & the Shanghai Restoration Projecct – Song for Mama (from Afterquake)
12. Father Padraig & the Next of Kin – Emily’s Funeral Song (from Virginia Singing Hymns)
13. Ben Harper & the Blind Boys of Alabama – Mother Pray (from There Will Be a Light)
14. Sara Groves – You Cannot Lose My Love (from All Right Here)
15. Low – In Metal (from Things We Lost in the Fire)
16. Animal Collective – My Girls (from Merriweather Post Pavilion)
*17. Sufjan Stevens – Djohariah (from All Delighted People EP)

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Album Review: Abigail Washburn – City of Refuge (2011)

This is one of my favorite records so far this year. I’ve had an intense personal connection with it that I hope to write about later. For now, though, here’s an excerpt from the review I got to write about it for Popmatters:

“Divine Bell”, a co-write with Old Crow Medicine Show’s Ketch Secor, is the most old-timey thing here, a true country gospel tune about the end of suffering. Not only is it explicitly Christian, it’s pretty Dispensationalist, and its regionalism is pitch-perfect, both in eschatology and twang. Then, closer “Bright Morning Stars” is an Appalachian folk song that Washburn, Secor and fellow Old Crow Morgan Jahnig sing in Sacred Harp-style acapella. It’s not a hymn, though—it’s a mourning song—and its more inclusive vision of hope is given startling depth by Washburn’s choice to superimpose it over throat-singing by Mongolian string band Hanggai. That one-two punch poignantly closes a record about homesickness and community on a note of provocatively spiritual—and entirely global—uplift.

full review, originally posted on February 28, 2011, at Popmatters

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