True, not all the 13 tracks are complete throwbacks, but none of them veer very far from the original country & western formulas. There’s the rockabilly of Wheetman’s “Wake Up Mama.” Echoes of The Band are evident in “Growin' Trade,” in which a cotton farmer hits hard times and turns to an alternate crop. Co-written by Levon Helm, the song was apparently intended for The Band but never recorded by them. John Prine’s “Unwed Fathers,” featuring Harris as the abandoned angel, is social commentary about a teenage father who takes a Greyhound bus out of town rather than face responsibility. Then there are folksy laments like Kris Kristofferson’s “This Old Road” and Butch Hancock’s “If You Were a Bluebird.”
I admit to wondering if Jubilee will appeal to younger generations of country fans used to slickly polished productions with largely interchangeable vocalists and players. It will be interesting to find out. If your leanings are more Chicago and Memphis blues than Appalachian bluegrass, this one might not be your cup of tea. But if you’d like a sample of what country was all about before it became an industry, Jubilee might be a collection y’all want to celebrate.