The Sharecroppers,
Home, Boys
(self-produced, 2003)

Most albums, no matter how weak, manage at least one decent song. And some manage to be mostly good songs. But precious few groups manage to put out an album that is nothing but strong numbers from beginning to end, all equal in spirit without being monotonous in sound. Yet the Sharecroppers have done it again with their third album, Home, Boys. The tunes are, for the most part, simple, traditional songs and natural newborn heirs to the rough folk tradition. But not one of these songs fails to bring a tear to the eye and a smile to heart.

The Sharecroppers perform a select few traditional songs, delivered with the enthusiasm usually reserved for new discoveries. They perform the oldest standards as though they were bringing their audience an unheard experience; and so they do, every time. "You Went for a Walk, Sir," manages to sound almost like an authentic conversation, without losing its melodic drive. But perhaps the most astonishing is "Rosin the Bow," here given the energy of a joyful farewell or graduation rather than mournful nostalgia more common to the song. It turns the song from a solemn performance piece to a solid sing-along tune without losing any delicacy.

Aside from the few traditional pieces, the Sharecroppers' songs are deeply rooted in place. Newfoundland dominates their songs, with a few cameos by unseen Ireland. The Sharecroppers don't sing of the standard green hills or big waves, though. Instead, here are local doctors and dying fisheries, unique festivals and the resident gardens blooming with seasons of a cold and sometimes unkind climate. From the gentle celebration of the seasons in "This Island" to the painfully strong memories of "Life in the Outport," the Sharecropper's wide-eyed love for their home countryside comes through. When they break into a joyous cry of "Home, Boys!" it's impossible to resist shouting along, feeling a thrill of return to a place that most people in the world may never see.

The Sharecroppers sing of Ireland and Newfoundland, of fishers and musicians and doctors. But through it all, they sing of home, with warmth and conviction that will resonate in any who have found their spot of belonging in this world. Whether you're an islander or not, the good cheer of the Sharecroppers will make you feel you too have come Home, Boys.

- Rambles
written by Sarah Meador
published 12 March 2005

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