"Follow Me Down" by The Lonesome Sisters with Rayna Gellert

The Lonesome Sisters with Rayna Gellert

Follow Me Down

Tin Halo Music THMCD-0605

4.5 Stars (out of 5)

The Lonesome Sisters – Sarah Hawker and Debra Clifford – live in the Catskills, but their sound emanates from southern Appalachia. On its third release, the duo teams with fiddler Rayna Gellert (from the band Uncle Earl) on a superb set of primitive ballads and old-time music.

Follow Me Down features mostly originals with a seamless smattering of traditionals. These award-winning songwriters take time-honored themes love and death, and craft tunes that seem older than the hills. From the despair of a dying daughter’s departure in “Babylon” to the comfort of salvation in “When the Angels Call My Name,” the Lonesome Sisters masterfully balance heartbreak and hope and illuminate the fine line between joy and pain.

Brilliant, understated arrangements range from the a cappella “Darlin’ Don’t You Know That’s Wrong” to the three-piece title track. Simple guitar strums and gentle harmonies often underlie lyrical landslides like, “It’s better to be alone than to be lonely.” Gellert’s soulful fiddle goes across the mountain and paces the reflective instrumental closer.

It only takes a few seconds of the beautiful “Blackbird” to embrace the Lonesome Sisters’ charm, but it takes nearly 65 minutes to follow them down this 17-track tour de force. It’s a journey of abundant musical and spiritual rewards.

by Tim Walsh