Various Artists: Dear Jean – Artists Celebrate Jean Ritchie
Dear Jean: Artists Celebrate Jean Ritchie
Bringing It All Back Home, Philip King’s TV series, introduced many of us to the Kentucky-born singer-songwriter Jean Ritchie. As a Fulbright scholar in the 1950s, she spent 18 months in Ireland and Britain, collecting and preserving many of our songs. This is a deep-bellied tribute, with contributions from, among others, Judy Collins, Janis Ian and Peggy Seeger. Historically rich in detail (listen to Black Waters, with Tim O’Brien and others, to hear a tale of wanton environmental destruction) and earnest of intent, Dear Jean cries out for a renegade, such as T Bone Burnett, to disturb its centrifugal force. Unquestionable riches lie within, but the overall solemnity cries out for more primal contributions, such as that of the Starry Mountain Singers, whose I’ve Got A Mother is an unfettered celebration of intimate storytelling and close harmonies.