(Red Beet, 2008)

You may not know Fayssoux McLean, but you've more than likely heard her voice. Back during Emmy Lou Harris's glory days, Fayssoux was all over Luxury Liner, Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town, Elite Hotel -- on all of the great albums Emmy Lou made in the 1970s, Fayssoux was the harmony voice, and on several, she sang duets with Harris. But she dropped out of the music business to become a teacher in her native South Carolina, and had not Peter Cooper decided to write a book about the musical history of Spartanburg, S.C., that might have been the end of her musical story.

Cooper heard her sing at a release party for his book and determined to produce a record for her. Ten years later, Early is the result of that determination. Listening to it, you can only be glad he persevered. Fayssoux has the luminous voice of an angel and the musical taste of a historian. Her material encompasses a couple of self-written ballads, the works of such contemporary writers as Paul Craft and Rodney Crowell, traditional folk ballads and gospel.

She is equally at home in every genre.

The CD is sparsely but beautifully produced, its instrumentation ideally suited to her voice and the material, and Emmy Lou drops by to sing backup. Also appearing are the White family and Ricky Skaggs, along with David Ball and pedal steel master Lloyd Green.

All told, this is one fabulous CD. It's good to have Fayssoux MacLean back from retirement, and I hope she sticks around a long time.

review by
Michael Scott Cain

26 July 2008

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