[A] few months back I had the pleasure of meeting Vinocur & Wolf as part of an east coast tour, a chance to see just how fantastic this band is, how well their music lends itself to a small barn show in a random neighborhood in Boston; how it feels rooted in tradition with a modern take on a folk style that hasn’t fully been explored. Goodnight, Texas’ cross continental collaboration of Avi Vinocur and Patrick Wolf brought together an album that I’ve fallen in love with. Their unlikely collaboration crosses a midpoint in the country, a town called Goodnight, Texas. Their attempt to build a folk music based on stories of hardship, loss, broken relationships and life of post civil war Appalachia.
A Long Life of Living, breezes through these thematic elements with an authentic sound, with the sounds of slide, acoustic guitars and ramshackle percussionist that instantly transport you to this world that the band paints. The album starts off with Maggie’s Farm, a slow burning folksy track that references Dylan’s Maggie’s Farm, its a bit of a dirge, but a powerful one at that. “Submarines,” employs a twang
Songs like the aforementioned “Jesse Got Trapped in a Coal Mine” a brutal & heartbreaking story of a young man trapped in a coal mine who leaves behind the girl he never got to marry, a particularly harrowing story the guys sing with emotion and a genuine feeling of loss. The dancey / hootenanny song, “Meet Me at the Smokestack,” is the perfect sing-along track that bumps and rambles with a banjo line that places you somewhere below the mason dixon toed up on a dance floor stomping your feet and hollering the words. It’s a fun track that will have you coming back again and again. The songwriting and craftsmanship in the music is well on display throughout songs like “Plan of Attack,” “Harmony,” and “Carparts and Linens” a trio of songs that most perfectly blend traditional Appalachian folk with what can be lyrical anachronisms, and actually make it work beautifully. They feel traditional and modern without breaking a sweat.
The album is littered with fantastic tracks that make you sing, make you weep, and go for the repeat button again and again. It took me way too long to get this written, but this is absolutely one of my favorite records I’ve heard this year, and one you should have in your collection.
Grab A Long Life of Living.