Various Roots Music: An American Anthology

Leave it to roots-rich Rounder to issue this treasure trove of some of the best music available in any single collection. More a fascinating history lesson than an attempt at arriving at any final word, this four-disc extravaganza probes the definition of "roots" by tracing its origins and exploring its many permutations. Liberal examples demonstrating how the genre has evolved over time abound. Each disc samples traditional music played with authenticity and the contrasts evident across each contemporary offshoot begin to hit home, either in Cajun and zydeco, blues, gospel, old time country, doo-wop, New Orleans' R&B, rockabilly and bluegrass. Who could believe that any collection ranging from Sleepy Labeef to the Persuasions, or Bessie Jones to Alison Krause, could work together? Yet it not only works, it mesmerises. In addition, Roots Music is a cornerstone collection of outstanding musicianship and an inexpensive introduction to a world that demands further investigation. It is not possible to come away without discovering some new "finds" worthy of worship. And, at very least, it's an instant party in a box. Take this affordable journey, you'll quickly find it's well worth the trip. (Rounder)