Dust Bowl Children
On his first album in two years, Rowan, whose career has spanned every genre from bluegrass to rock, delivers a surprising set of countrified acoustic folk. Half of the record evokes the Depression era and the challenge of living off the land, the other half the proud spirit of the American Indian and the Old West. Rowan crafts songs about the disenchanted and the disenfranchised (”Tumbleweed,” ”Dust Bowl Children”) in a straightforward ballad style reminiscent of Woody Guthrie. Accompanied only by guitar, mandola, and the occasional punctuating harmonica, he commands a voice of uncommon purity, one that alternately shimmies, yodels, and floats into lullaby, and eerily suggests the ghosts of his songs’ characters, silhouetted on the American landscape throughout history. Striking and stirring, with unexpected rhythm and melodic turns, this is a work of quiet beauty.