Penny Lang Gather Honey

Never has such a spooky version of "In the Pines" graced my stereo. The then 21-year-old Penny Lang's live 1963 take on the ancient Leadbelly song, her first known recording, is full of both wide-eyed wonder and worldly despair. Gather Honey is a collection of this first lady of Canadian folk's early material - a window into a vibrant Montreal coffeehouse scene in the heart of a folk revival that would have repercussions on North American music still felt today. These selections are bootlegs and archival recordings, some recorded at Expo 1967's Youth Pavilion by Radio Canada, and capture Lang interpreting a treasury of folk and blues gemstones from Buffy Saint-Marie ("Broke Down Girl") and Jimmy Rodgers ("Waiting for a Train") to lesser-known Canucks like Chris Rawlings, Ronney Abramson and Bruce Murdoch. To her credit, Lang's delivery is convincing, whether the song is a jovial blues ("Gather Honey"), a spiritual ("Trouble in Mind") or a warbling country folk ("Come Across to You"). The songs and their execution are simple, direct and truthful to their roots, making Gather Honey an excellent traditional folk album. (Borealis)