David Leinweber,
Old World Folk
(Heritage, 2005)

Yes, it's another collection of English, Irish and general Anglophile folk songs. Yes, most of the pieces are standards that fans of the form probably own on at least half a dozen albums.

But don't go! You may be ready to beat "Molly Malone" to death with her own fish cart, you may have seen so many "Spanish Ladies" that you're ready to join a monastery, but you haven't heard Old World Folk: Folk Songs & Instrumentals from the British Isles as Performed by David Leinweber. And this time it's different. Really.

It's hard to pinpoint just what makes Leinweber's delivery unique. He makes no radical innovations in the style or presentation of the music. His voice, though clear, is ordinary.

But there's nothing ordinary about his performance, which combines the energy of a live rock concert with the cozy jokiness of a favorite uncle. When Leinweber sings, he climbs out of the speakers to wink and compliment the cooking , and maybe take a dance around the kitchen floor. Some folk revivalists sound like they're trying to awaken the collective unconscious with their music. Leinweber only sounds like he believes his words, as though these songs have just come to him, and nothing will do but to sing them out. So "Lavender Blue" becomes an unplanned tune drifting from a waiting lover's mouth. "Molly Malone" turns from trite to an old man's half-tipsy reminiscence to a girl from the old hometown. This is folk music brought back to the realm of, well, folks. It's simple, immediate and utterly charming.

And if nothing else, no other collection of folk songs has Leinweber's original inspirational composition "Fake Your Sincerity," the best advice ever to be taken to excess. It may be modern, but it's perfectly in tune with the rest of the album. Funny and heartfelt. Old World Folk isn't a remembrance of classic songs. It's their full living revival.

by Sarah Meador
19 May 2007

[ visit the artist's website ]

Buy it from Amazon.com.