Sunday was an NPR day. Truth be told, most days are. But yesterday, in addition to the previous post which caught my ear, the group The Honey Dewdrops performing on PHC stood out. Sounding like a cross between low-fi folk and country, with a sprinkle of bluegrass, their rendition of Dwight Yoakam's "Miner's Prayer," is heartbreakingly beautiful. Laura Wortman's tremulous vocals soar over the guitars like a canary seeking the light, while Kagey Parrish's voice fills out the spaces in between with a voice that makes promises of a better tomorrow.
Yoakam originally wrote "Miner's Prayer" for his grandpa, Luther Tibbs, who was a Kentucky coal miner for 40 years. The Honey Dewdrops' decision to cover that song, as well as Johnny Cash's "Long Black Veil" is smart; it allows them to reframe two ballads of Americana within their own sensibilities. Sung by Wortman, they are stripped down to the bone, allowing them to take on an additional sort of resonant dimensionality that is filled with a sweet kind of melancholy. Then their own songs, seem not like contrived throwbacks (though even without the framework of Cash and Yoakam, their work would stand on its own), but as music that is part of a long and continuing tradition. As they say on their myspace page theirs are "songs that link images of a forgotten past with contemporary words."
To listen, click on the title of this post.