When we reviewed Rory Block’s last album, I Belong To The Band (the third issue in her Mentor Series), we referred to her as “an American Treasure.” Block has earned every bit of that accolade and then some over the course of her storied career. So, how does an artist top that? Well, she doesn’t try to. Instead, she just keeps playing the music that has given her so much joy throughout her life, and thankfully, she continues to share that with all of us.
As the fourth installment in the Mentor Series, Rory Block’s Avalon celebrates Mississippi John Hurt. Issued on the Stony Plain label, this is very much a modern masterwork. Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Rob Davis, the sound quality and mix are excellent, resulting in music that is immediate, accessible, and full of spacial, acoustic beauty. In the liner notes, Block says “One of the things I have endeavored to capture in this tribute series is a return to a more earthy, natural approach.” In this, she has succeeded brilliantly.
Now we can try to describe this music with a bunch flowery adjectives, but honestly, that really won’t do this album justice. No sir, not at all. We will say this is the finest acoustic guitar playing we have heard in quite some time. The picking on “Avalon” and “Got The Blues Can’t Be Satisfied” will blow you away! “Spike Driver Blues” and “Stagolee” are equally exquisite. This album is like when you pull the curtains back in the morning and the room fills with the first sunlight of the day, and you get that warm feeling inside, and you smile. Avalon is flawless, alive, full of joy and passion, and smiles too! Add it to your collection soon. It will release you, and inspire you, every time you hear it.