This little-known, eclectic acoustic group from upstate New York offers something for nearly everyone on this, their most recent album.
Anchored by the incomparable voice of band namesake Annie Rosen, these talented musicians delightfully present the listener with everything from jazz, swing, blues, and folk to bluegrass, with a sampling of honky tonk country thrown in for good measure.
Good Old Wagon is Annie and The Hedonists' third release. Also on the Windy Acres label, they have released Side of The Road and Moonglow on The Midway, both in 2005.
Two family groups are, jointly, the mainstays of The Hedonists; Annie and Jonny Rosen met Steve and Betsy Fry at an old fashioned a capella sing at a friend's house in Guilderland, NY. The two couples caught each other's attention at that event, and soon after, the group was formed. On Good Old Wagon, daughters Hannah Rosen and Amanda Fry join in.
The album opens with a marvelous vamp of the 1942 Peggy Lee hit, “Why Don't You Do Right,” artfully interpreted by Annie, who makes the song all her own. Accompanied on featured Dobro by Ken Maul, with Jonny Rosen on guitar and Steve Fry on keyboards, the opening track is a delicious taste of delights to come.
Another favorite is the title song, “Good Old Wagon,” a sexy blues number, again anchored by Annie, with excellent vocal harmony from Steve and Betsy Fry, backed by Peter Davis's superb clarinet.
The jazz genre is enjoyably represented by “I've Got a Feeling I'm Falling,” an old (1929) Fats Waller tune whimsically sung here by Steve Fry, accompanying himself on rhythm guitar, and again with backing by Peter Davis and his fine clarinet.
There is not a bad track on this CD; I liked them all, but won't spoil the reader's own enjoyment by tediously reviewing all of them. I would be remiss, however, if I didn't mention the two traditional pieces, “Pretty Fair Maid” and “Maid of Culmore;” the former sung by Hannah Rosen, and the latter by Amanda Fry. Both are worthy efforts and both ladies have the clear, sweet voices so necessary for good traditional folksinging.
While the arrangements and interpretations on Good Old Wagon are original, all the songs featured on this album are standards of the jazz, blues, country, and folk genres. There is much to enjoy here, and I would love to see an album of original material from this talented group.
Unfortunately, Annie and The Hedonists are, as I mentioned above, not well known outside of upstate New York. Their CDs are not easy to find; Good Old Wagon is not yet carried by Amazon, but their first two CDs are. There are a few outlets available on the Internet which carry their newest effort.
The hunt is worthwhile, the catch, rewarding.