Thanks largely to social media we currently live in a world of exaggeration where videos are described as “unbelievable” or “you won’t believe what you are seeing”, good concerts are reviewed as great and great is reviewed as epic. The trouble with this is when something truly epic comes along it is in danger of being lost in a sea of hyper babble, which is certainly the case of The Rose of Roscrae by Tom Russell.
This double CD musical ballad comes in at a whopping 2 and half hours and it isn’t just the length that makes it epic, it is the attention to detail, the storyline and without doubt the star of the show is the songs – each a classic in their own right and featuring guest voices by Jimmie Dale Gilmore, David Olney, Johnny Cash, Joe Ely, Augie Meyers, Fats Kaplin, Barry Walsh, Jimmy La Fave, Gretchen Peters, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Walt Whitman, Moses “Clear Rock” Platt, Jack Hardy, David Massingill, A.L. “Bert” Lloyd, Finbar Furey, Sourdough Slim, Blackie Farrell, Tex Ritter, Glen Orhlin, Pat Russell, John Trudell, Henry Real Bird, Thad Beckman, Maura O’Connell, Eliza Gilkyson, The McCrary Sisters, Ian Tyson, The Swiss Yodel Choir of Bern, Bonnie Dobson, Lead Belly, Guy Clark, Dan Penn, Gurf Morlix, Pat Manske, The Voices of the Waverley School, Pasadena, California.
There is also virtually every style of music going on this album from traditional country, Tex Mex, country rock, blues, Irish folk, Native American singing, gospel and lilting ballads that rip straight to the core of your heart – as well as plenty of humour including a couple of laugh out loud moments and an overture performed by The Norwegian Wind Ensemble! Quite simply this album is a masterpiece that needs to be heard, it will resonate most to people who are interested in the history of the American West but the appeal is to anyone who enjoys great storytelling and music.
Review by Graham Steel