by Chris Godsey
December 10, 2006
Chris Godsey finds "The New Folklore" inclusive and disarming.
Records this good--so engaging, defined by groove, and full of thoughtful words and sounds--are rare.
Teague Alexy has bounced among genres like hip-hop, reggae, and folk (whatever that is) in his career, and that hugely inclusive point of view is obvious in every part of his lyrical wit and delivery. He tells stories as well as the best rappers, turns phrases like Dylan (either one), and drops casual, disarming insight like artists are supposed to.
"A Good Clean High (Off A Cheap Bottle of Wine")" is maybe the most narcotic song on an album full of deep, catchy tunes. "I wanna be a one-man riot," he sings at one point, "Of raising a big old ruckus in the name of a little bit of peace and quiet." Once you've listened to it two or three times, dare yourself not
to belt out lines like that or the chorus.
The tight, short "Verona"--dig Nicholas Mrozinski's piano, and how it talks to Paul Grill's cymbals and snare--is a blast. "Verona, your love means more to me / than my notebook would mean to a wack MC," Alexy laments (celebrates?).
[Translation: A "wack MC" is an unskilled rapper--one who could surely use a talented rapper's lyric notebook. Alexy's narrator is saying that he loves Verona even more than a sucky rapper would appreciate the blessing of some non-sucky lyrics. And that's a lot
Gratuitous, unfortunate comparisons: Combined with The Feelin' Band's rollicking, rolling, liquid piano, percussion, and standup bass, the disc contains significant elements of Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, The Band, maybe some Grateful Dead here and there, and lots of other folks.
But none of those artists is imitated. While their presence and influence are obvious, this is all new music that builds on what its creators have heard, that stands on its own merits, that feels like it's been around for a long time, and that suggests it will be around for much longer.