Richard Shindell

South of Delia Reviews

Vintage Guitar

Richard Shindell's seventh release, South of Delia, is a throwback to
the days when a performer could be labeled a folksinger with no
embarrassment. Nowadays this term seems almost archaic. Which folks?
What exactly IS a folksinger? Richard Shindell makes it all so simple
he distills the concept of "folksinger" to a state of mind rather than a
musical genre.

Born in New Jersey, Richard Shindell now lives in Buenos Aires,
Argentina. Considering how uniquely American his music is, perhaps he
needs the distance to be able to capture the entire breadth of the
American experience. South of Delia surveys this landscape with the
affection usually reserved for a long lost lover. The voyage begins with
Robbie Robertson's Acadian Driftwood and proceeds on to Bob Dylan's
Senior (Tales of Power), Harry Robertson's The Humpback Whale, Bruce
Springsteen's Born in the USA, Peter Gabriel's Mercy Street, A.P.
Carter's The Storms are on the Ocean, Jeffrey Foucault's Northbound,
traditional Sittin' On Top of the World, traditional Texas Rangers,
Woody Guthrie's Deportee, Leon Gieco's Solo le Pido a Dios, and ends
with Josh Ritter's Lawrence, KS. There are no originals on South of
Delia. This album is all about interpretation. Shindell has the singular
musical vision to make even signature tunes from the likes of Bruce
Springsteen and Bob Dylan his own. He accomplishes this by luxuriating
in the essence of the tune, stripping it down to its basic shape and
then adding just enough embellishments to make it whole again.
Shindell's reading of Sitting on Top of the World captures the tune's
mournfulness in a way few renditions can. His voice accompanied by
nothing more than a single-tracked solo guitar, played in a modal E (the
ultimate guitar blues key), Shindell makes ample use of silence to
reinforce the fundamental aloneness of the song.

Although the list of players on South of Delia might indicate rather
full orchestration, the actual sonic landscape is sparse. These veteran
players were chosen as much by what they choose not to play as the notes
they do. The core band includes Vicktor Krauss on upright bass, Dennis
McDermott on drums and percussion, Larry Campbell on electric guitar and
pedal steel, and Radosiav Lorkovic on accordion, keyboards, and
harmonium. Lucy Kaplansky, Eliza Gilkyson, Mark Hallman and Leon Gieco
add background vocals. By way of a special treat, Richard Thompson, who
rarely does any session work, contributes his unique guitar work to two
tunes, The Humpback Whale, and Texas Rangers.

On South of Delia Richard Shindell proves that if you dig deeply enough
into a particular song you can penetrate to its very core. He creates
music that feels like it has always been there and always will be there,
eternally. This special gift makes him the very essence of a folksinger;
a performer who puts the music and its message ahead of his own ego, and
in doing so creates art.

updated: 11 years ago