Since Bradford Lee Folk’s recording seems centered around lyrics, that will draw the most attention here. That said, some mention of the musical settings is necessary. A couple of them are straight-ahead bluegrass, the one with the most traditional drive being the opener “Foolish Game Of Love.” The rest work the Americana and folk end of the spectrum, characterized by light, jangly guitar strumming and airy instrumental work. They set moods and do so quite well. They also have some nice melodic contours. “Somewhere Far Away” stands out as the best overall song.
Lyrically, the album is far more poetic than the standard bluegrass fare. The opener and “Somewhere Far Away” are about as concrete as the lyrics get, the former being fairly straightforward in its look at love’s perils, the latter cataloging images that transport the singer—shallow Virginia lakes, empty bottles, and airliner wing lights…that sort of thing. At other times, you sense you know Folk’s message even when the images are veiled, as in “Trains Don’t Lie,” which uses a moment’s stream of consciousness to speak of longing for home. But then comes “The Piper” with lines like: Smoke will choke the sparrow/And wind excites the flame/No matter who pulls the chain/The lights go out the same. We’re suddenly in a mental wilderness. So, too, in several others and in Nick Woods’ “The Wood Swan,” about a dying relationship: The wood swan that rode on the metro years ago is still here/Although you know that it was a close one/The grandma that raised us all is still in a window here/She sees what I see, it takes one to know one. And yet, even at its most obscure, it’s hard not to like or be intrigued by this recording. It’s worth a listen. (www.bradfordleefolk.com)BW