Old Sledge "Don’t Let Your deal Go Down"
Old sledge are a four piece band from Virginia composed of Chance McCoy, fiddle, guitar and vocals, Gabra Guzman, guitar and vocals, Ben Townsend, banjo and Jake Hopkins on bass and occasional banjo. Their biography states that each and all have spent time with “old masters of traditional music” and have a collective mission to be a “torchbearer for traditional music.” Well, simply put I’d reckon that they have achieved their mission and more.
Packed with 15 tracks, all either traditional or written way back when (Narmor & Smith’s “Carroll County Blues” for example was “one of the biggest selling records of 1929”), this album does indeed breathe new life into songs that have been done and dusted time and time again.
'Danville Girl', 'Deep Elum Blues', 'St. James Infirmary' and others sound fresh, reinvigorated. With brief liner notes on each selection the album also acts as a fair primer for anyone wanting to delve into these backwoods. From the vibrant gallop that is the opener 'Danville Girl' the album fairly scoots along for the most part, fiddle and banjo blazing in fine fashion.
The western swing song “I’m Confessin,’ sung by Guzman does seem a little out of place surrounded as it is by the more uptempo numbers even though it’s given a fine rendition. Another slow paced Guzman vocal on “What is a Home Without Love” however sits perfectly at the end. The stand out song has to be Roscoe Holcombe’s “Boat’s Up the River” which sounds both menacing and spiritual and has some fine bass playing from Hopkins. Well worth checking out.