85

Bryan and the Haggards: Pretend It's The End of the World

Raul d'Gama Rose By

Sign in to view read count
The legend of Merle Haggard is probably as large as the life of the folk music star. Only Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash have a larger legend than Haggard. The writer of "Okie from Muskogee" is the star of this album, Pretend It's The End of the World by this ensemble led by tenor saxophonist, Bryan Murray. Haggard's music has always been earnest and soulful and like the best contemporary music, was in fact, somewhat ahead of its time. As a musician and instrumentalist, Haggard was also copied and lionized by both the left and right within the politicized spectrum of artists in America. In reality, he touched the heart of grassroots America as much as any artist, except the aforementioned Guthrie, Dylan, Nelson and Cash and perhaps Pete Seeger.

Bryan and the Haggards make a wonderful tribute to this living legend without getting too sentimental and despite the delayed rhythm of the track, "Lonesome Fugitive," which ends up appearing somewhat overdone,the barn-recorded nature of the music comes as close to the Blues as anything that white America might have in relation to the blues of Blind Willie McTell, Sonny Boy Williamson II and Big Bill Broonzy.

Rather than featuring the hits of Haggard, this album focuses on his character and in doing so, brings to light some of his lesser known music. "Silver Wings" and "Swinging Doors" were not as famous as "Okie from Muskogee" and "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Lucky Star." What does come to pass, however, is the raw and primal nature of Haggard's music. "Working Man's Blues" is superb and resounds with the heat and clang of struggle. The emotion of "All of Me Belongs to You" is taut and quite overwhelming in the best sense of the word, as the song soars well beyond "yonder blue" that musicians of Haggard's ilk liked to reach out to.

Murray is most ably assisted by the arresting tone of Jon Irabagon's alto saxophone, Jon Lundbom's gutbucket guitar, especially on "Silver Wings" as well as the marvelous timekeeping of Matthew "Moppa" Elliott's bass and Danny Fischer's drums. Elliott shines on "All of Me Belongs to You" with his sweeping arco playing and accompanying vocals, which effectively defines the playfulness and raw nature of this album, full of the high and lonesome twang of Merle Haggard's music.

Track Listing: Silver Wings; Swinging Doors; Working Man Blues; Miss the Mississippi and You; Lonesome Fugitive; All of Me Belongs to You; Trouble in Mind.

Personnel: Bryan Murray; tenor saxophone; Jon Irabagon: alto saxophone; Jon Lundbom: guitar; Matthew "Moppa" Elliott: bass; Danny Fischer: drums.

Title: Pretend It's the End of the World | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Hot Cup Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Gledalec CD/LP/Track Review Gledalec
by John Sharpe
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Flux Reflux CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Christmas With Champian CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read No Answer CD/LP/Track Review No Answer
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "Terry Riley In C" CD/LP/Track Review Terry Riley In C
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 8, 2017
Read "Steeped" CD/LP/Track Review Steeped
by John Eyles
Published: October 20, 2016
Read "Irmãos De Fé" CD/LP/Track Review Irmãos De Fé
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 6, 2017
Read "Satin Doll – A Tribute to Billy Strayhorn" CD/LP/Track Review Satin Doll – A Tribute to Billy Strayhorn
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 23, 2017
Read "Of The Musical" CD/LP/Track Review Of The Musical
by Paul Naser
Published: December 29, 2016
Read "Forage" CD/LP/Track Review Forage
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 16, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.