Obviously, tradition is important to John Wort Hannam. Queen’s Hotel’s artwork is covered in vintage photographs of Fort Macleod, AB, courtesy of Calgary’s Glenbow Archives, and among this whole collection of well-crafted folk, immigrant and union songs there’s nothing that Woody Guthrie would have felt uncomfortable singing.
With solid production by Steve Dawson and richly evocative backup by the likes of Dawson, John Reischman and Jenny Whiteley it’s meat and potatoes traditional folk. If you want folk with a modern or cutting edge feel to it, this disc isn’t it.
In fact, this critic spent the better part of a week trying to define what it was that made some traditional discs more “modern” than others: arrangements, contemporary slant on lyrics and ideas, or just production? I didn’t come up with much in the way of a definitive answer. All I decided was that Gillian Welch sounded “fresh and contemporary” and this disc was “traditional,” whatever the hell those terms mean.
– By Barry Hammond