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Album Review

David Mallett, 'Alright now'

December 21, 2009

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Maine-based David Mallett is one of the most underrated folkies of our time. He’s best known for his ecological “Garden Song,’’ recorded by Pete Seeger, John Denver, and Arlo Guthrie. But Mallett has made a slew of great albums, from early discs produced by Peter, Paul & Mary’s Noel Paul Stookey to this latest, a masterpiece worthy of the sly old fox that he is. Mallett’s voice, which echoes the troubadour side of Gordon Lightfoot and the utter honesty of Guy Clark, is most adept at addressing the passage of time. “As you grow old/ Just stay in a place in your mind like a tune from an innocent time,’’ he sings on one jangly, Byrds-inspired tune. The band arrangements have an easy lope to them, but also a twangy guitar bite, as in the gutbucket folk-blues sound of “Ten Men.’’ He gets topical on the “End of the Day’’ (questioning the “information-cluttered’’ digital world) and in the thought-provoking “North Meets South,’’ about the hope stemming from Barack Obama’s inauguration. Mallet, 58, is a keen, sharp-eyed observer, whether he’s addressing the pitfalls of life (“Dark Side of the Moon’’) or the joy of a newborn child on “Beautiful.’’ This is an exquisite, ennobling record, made by a terrific craftsman. (Out now) STEVE MORSE

Folk
David Mallett Alright Now
North Road
ESSENTIAL “North Meets South’’