Dirk Powell Time Again

If you missed the picture adorning this record's cover you might think Dirk Powell was a withered Methuselah of a man, old as the hills these songs came from. After his acclaimed work on the Cold Mountain soundtrack, an old-timey collection that drew comparisons to O Brother, Powell has issued a collection of powerful songs rooted in the Appalachian tradition. Some of the tunes are standards ("Mother's Little Children,” "Honey Babe"), many are traditional, and a few are Powell originals. The selections are interspersed with lo-fi recordings of Powell and his grandfather playing banjo, fiddle and guitar together. These interludes act as windows of history for the rest of the album, pointing out where this music comes from and the importance of the family continuum in keep it alive. Time Again is rural-sounding, authentic and old but not irrelevant by a long shot. Powell imbues each song with respect for the tradition and love of the ghosts that accompany each story, sorrowful or otherwise. More than that, Americana music is the blueprint of contemporary music. The raucous "Police,” for instance, is an early gangsta lyric. This is one record you'll listen to time and time again. (Rounder)