The Invisible Comes To Us (Smithsonian Folkways)
The first two albums by Anna & Elizabeth—Sun To Sun and Free Dirt—were cut with a bare-bones approach that mirrored the traditional material they love, playing the songs as they might have been performed 100 years ago.
This time they add electric guitar, organ, bass, drums, and percussion, but arrangements stay minimal, making the modern instruments sound as ancient as the songs to which they’ve been put in service.
On Black Eyed Susan, the guitars chime like the tolling of a ship’s bell, lamenting the lives of a sailor lost at sea. Virginia Rambler combines the duo’s desolate harmonies with random bursts of brittle percussion and an ambient keyboard drone, while By the Shore suggests the sound of Phillip Glass with random sounds drifting in and out of the mix.
The duo spent countless hours listening to songs archived at Vermont’s Middlebury College, the Library of Congress, and other institutions to find the obscure ballads they sing here, most of them as compelling as the songs most folkies will be familiar with.