Ramblin' Jack Elliott I Stand Alone

Ramblin' Jack Elliott I Stand Alone
Often recognised as the link between Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan, Elliott’s career has been overshadowed by both, out of his choice to be an interpreter rather than a writer. This album, clearly inspired by the poignancy of Johnny Cash’s American series, puts Elliott’s interpretive skills in proper context for the first time in recent memory. His leathery vocals are perfectly suited to most of these tales of woe, from the Carter Family’s "Engine 143,” to Hoagy Carmichael’s "Hong Kong Blues,” and even the dead dog tear-jerker "Old Blue.” There are many charming moments as well, such as a duet with Lucinda Williams on "Careless Darling,” and the cowboy ballad "Leaving Cheyenne.” However, many are just brief vignettes that sound like Elliott singing off the top of his head. Perhaps this lack of focus is the real reason why Elliott never achieved the acclaim that his peers did, but it’s still not enough to dismiss him as a minor folk rock figure, or this album as unfulfilled in comparison to Cash’s final work. I Stand Alone certainly sounds like the declaration of independence it was intended to be, and makes no apologies for its rough edges, just like the man himself. (Anti)