Anne Price,
Remember Me
(independent, 2005)

Anne Price is a folksinger and instrumentalist from New York. She has a voice made for folk. It is expressive, rich and honest. The songs she has collected on this album recount American life from sources ranging from traditional British ballads to miners' songs to contemporary numbers.

The songs are accompanied with simple acoustic backing, fitting for the material she has chosen. Allen Hopkins provides all of the instrumental accompaniment on a wide range of instruments, and each is played with skill and subtlety. Each accompaniment is completely appropriate to the song and serves to reinforce the often-political messages of the pieces. I have a feeling that this album may not have turned out so well without Hopkins' instrumental contributions.

Politics is not something a folksinger is ever afraid of, and Price is certainly no different. She brings together older and contemporary songs about the heyday of unions, hardships on the job, and working conditions most of us wouldn't want to deal with. Songs about mining, hobos, truck drivers, canal boatmen, shepherds and doffers (girls who changed the spools on the spinning machines) mix nicely with traditional songs like "The Cuckoo" and "Lady Diamond." This second song is sung a cappella and is a tale of love gone wrong for two young lovers, causing the young girl's father great remorse once the evil deed is done.

"Bling Blang," a fun Woody Guthrie children's song, and "The Testimony," a heart-wrenching tale of child labour (and winner of the 1969 British Club Folk songwriting contest) make up some of the more contemporary numbers on the album. The lovely "My Time," the only Price original on the album, describes Price's acceptance of growing older gracefully and is a calm, comfortable number.

"Been Rollin' So Long" and "Tarry Wool" come one right after the other and are two of the best tracks on the album. The former track is a sad ballad of driving truck across the country, while the latter is a gentle song about herding sheep and the wool and meat they provide.

The album finishes off with "Remember Me," a song that Marilyn Maltzer, Price's late singing partner, loved. The song expresses the hope that someone will remember you after you are gone. Dating from 1946, it has an old-time feel and a bit of twang in this arrangement.

Price's voice carries the album easily and Hopkins' accompaniment adds the details needed to take this recording above the ordinary. Anne Price is a bit too thought-provoking to listen to casually, but if you feel like being engaged in your music, Remember Me is a great choice. The songs will stay with you long after you finish listening.

by Jean Emma Price
17 December 2005

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