The New Line | Can't Hold the Wheel

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Adam Hurt Paul Simon Sam Amidon

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United States - Vermont

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Folk: Appalachian Folk Country: Old-Timey Moods: Mood: Dreamy
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Can't Hold the Wheel

by The New Line

Music from the intimate borderlands of indie-folk and afropop, bringing together Appalachian and African traditions together in a tender marriage.
Genre: Folk: Appalachian Folk
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Train On the Island
3:15 $0.99
2. Danville Girl
3:39 $0.99
3. Red Rocking Chair
3:33 $0.99
4. Nobody 'cept You
3:52 $0.99
5. Little Sadie
2:34 $0.99
6. Fall On My Knees
3:31 $0.99
7. Speed of the Sound of Loneliness
3:37 $0.99
8. Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still
4:19 $0.99
9. The Old Churchyard
4:01 $0.99
10. The Blackest Crow
4:15 $0.99
11. Friend of Mine
4:21 $0.99
12. Goodnight Irene
4:35 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
The New Line, led by front-man Brendan Taaffe on mbira, brings together American and African musical ideas in an re-invention of Appalachian ballads. With Adam Hurt on gourd banjo, Colin McCaffrey on electric guitar, and Stefan Amidon on percussion and vocals, this is music from the intimate borderlands of indie-folk and afropop. Imagine, if you can, music that lies comfortably between the atmospheric folk of Sam Amidon, a connection underlined by the presence here of his brother, and Paul Simon’s Graceland.

On the mbira, Brendan Taaffe has found a truly distinctive voice, blending traditional Shona technique with his love for old-time songs. You can tell by listening that he’s put in a lengthy apprenticeship on the instrument, and you won’t be surprised to learn that he traveled to Zimbabwe to study with master players like Cosmas Magaya, Forward Kwenda, and Tute Chigamba. But what is so stunning is the imaginative leap from that tradition to the music you hear on Can’t Hold The Wheel. Throughout, the mbira is complemented perfectly by Adam Hurt’s gourd banjo playing, a musical seed planted when Adam was at one of Taaffe’s gigs and the two were talking at the break. Based in North Carolina, Adam is one of the country’s top clawhammer players–dubbed a “banjo virtuoso” by the Washington Post and winner of most of the old-time banjo competitions in the country. The tight interplay of the two instruments is filled out with Colin McCaffrey, one of Vermont’s top session players and the album’s engineer, on electric guitar; Stefan Amidon of The Sweetback Sisters on drums, Lake Street Dive’s Mike ‘McDuck’ Olson on trumpet, and well-known folk chanteuse Heather Masse (The Wailin’ Jennys, Joy Kills Sorrow, frequent guest on A Prairie Home Companion) on harmony vocals.

The amazing thing is how seamlessly these disparate elements are woven together, a testament to Taaffe’s vision. The mesmerizing ripple of mbira and banjo casts familiar songs in a new light, and—far from being overstuffed with ideas—the album as a whole is spare and intimate. “The kind,” in the words of one reviewer, “of hushed, lonely warmth you experience sitting by a fire in a drafty house.” Brendan’s lead vocals are complemented by tender harmonies from Masse and Amidon—the interplay on Goodnight, Irene is particularly effective and never was the song so haunting and heart-broken. What is clear throughout, and what distinguishes Taaffe and The New Line from other bands trolling the waters of Americana, is that they show a deep respect for and understanding of the traditions they draw from, but aren’t afraid to take liberties with the past in order to document a personal present.



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