2018 album also available in CD.
‘Old Rockhounds Never Die’ is Odetta Harman’s second album and it is a bonanza of beautiful contradictions: intimate yet fiercely internationalist, spiritual and yet tangible, sweet and also sexy. It convenes with the ghosts of the past while marching relentlessly forwards.
Drawn from experiences as far-flung as riding a train from San Francisco to Chicago with an old-style, rootin’-tootin’ cowboy for company (‘Cowboy Song’), to experiencing the intense natural beauty of Icelandic waterfalls (‘Dettifoss’), it’s a record that taps into the musical traditions of the past while being a collection of songs about living in the moment.
Raised by pioneering parents on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, NYC, Odetta’s milieu was a “colorful culture of artistry” that included early exposure to community activism, renegade film screenings, poetry readings and trips to CBGB’s. Inchoate punk and hip hop were aural wallpaper, as were the 45s spinning in the household jukebox featuring her dad’s extensive collection of soul and afrobeat records, as well as her Appalachian mother’s classic country selections. A classically trained violinist with a penchant for back-porch banjo, Odetta combines these variegated sounds of her childhood with her personal passion for folk music and the musicological legacy of AlanLomax.
Lomax is writ large on ‘Old Rockhounds Never Die’, at least in spirit anyway. Odetta plays all the instruments on this and her debut ‘222’, which made problematic the changeovers between songs when playing live. Field recordings the singer had collected on her travels were utilized to make such transitions seamless and so successful was that intermingling of songs and soundscapes that they’ve transitioned into the recording process. It makes for a strangely intimate listen: tingly and a little tipsy: an album for twilight, sitting within the nocturnal hinterland between dusk and somnambulance - candlelit and confidential - a time for stories and secrets.