Charlie Louvin

Sings Murder Ballads And Disaster Songs (Tompkins Square)

Rating: NNNN

The Tompkins Square label released a wonderful set of uplifting spirituals by Charlie Louvin last year called Steps To Heaven, and now comes the darker flipside.

However twisted and troubling the material gets, such ancient blood-soaked ballads have always been an important part of Louvin’s repertoire, back to his days singing with his late older brother, Ira Louvin. He sings The Little Grave In Georgia, Katy Dear, Dark As A Dungeon and other chillers with the calm authority of some backwoods troubadour from the 20s that Harry Smith might’ve uncovered. Whether intended or not, the grinning photo of Louvin on the sleeve is a magnificently macabre touch.

Top track: My Brother’s Will

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