Jimmy Gaudreau & Moondi Klein
Home From the Mills
4.5 stars (out of 5)
By Donald Teplyske
Jimmy Gaudreau and Moondi Klein may not record very often, but when they do, they produce Americana magic.
Not bluegrass, not country, not folk, and not alt.anything either; rather, these veterans of the Country Gentlemen, the Tony Rice Unit, the Seldom Scene, Chesapeake, and probably twenty other bands and a thousand picking parties create an uncluttered vocal and instrumental blend that encompasses essentials of all of these while bringing their own creativity to the fore. The result is devastatingly honest and pure. So true are the performances that each note, every song appears to have been lived by the duo, augmented this time by Moondi’s daughter Lauren.
As they did on 2008’s equally excellent 2:10 Train, Gaudreau and Klein have selected songs carefully.
Again they visit Australian Scotsman Eric Bogle, this time choosing to cover his “Leaving Nancy.” Instead of Tom Paxton—whose “The Last Thing on My Mind” they recorded last time out—they visit the Eric Anderson (“Close the Door Lightly When You Go”) and Gordon Lightfoot (“Shadows”) catalogs for familiar folk offerings. The traditional instrumentals this time out are “Whiskey Before Breakfast”/“Red Haired Boy” and “Fisher’s Hornpipe.” And there is, once more, a Hot Rize connection—whereas before they covered the essential “Colleen Malone,” this time two Tim O’Brien tunes are included, “Bending Blades” and “Rod McNeil.”
Home From the Mills is nearly without fault, with their selection of Alpha Rev’s “New Morning” the only tune that doesn’t do much for me. But even here, they make the song infinitely more interesting than the original.
Aside from the previously mentioned song highlights, it needs to be mentioned that Klein’s voice, which always sounds dynamic and strong, and which may be tribute to his background in opera, has seldom sounded better. There are times, as on “C&O Canal” and “If I Needed You” that one wonders if Klein isn’t simply a marvel that improves with time. Take the title track, for instance. I believe it may have been on this song, which kicked off Chesapeake’s 1996 Full Sail album, that I first heard Klein’s voice. And while that performance was memorable and quite outstanding, on Home From the Mills the effect is even more impressive.
Really, all the superlatives aside, that should be the final word on this album: impressive.