The Journey

Review by Tony May for FOLK ROOTS, London, England

AILEEN & ELKIN THOMAS The Journey Shantih Records ST-1109

If your taste is for sweet, acoustic country/folk of the David Mallett, Bill Staines, or even early John Denver style, here's a large slice of ecstasy for you. The bio-blurb with the promo album informs that the Thomas's lifestyle has progressed from four-and-a-half years afloat to life on a 713-acre farm on the north Texas prairie. The music directly reflects the lifestyle; it's downhome, back porch h, easy country-living, and the duo are totally, peacefully at ease with their work.

Their own solid skills with guitars, banjo, harmonica and bass are simply yet tastefully augmented by an extra guitarist on some tracks, and good embellishment from David McKnight (violin/viola). The songs are uncomplicated in the complimentary sense, the vocals have that 'just meant for each other' blend, and it's all so perfectly put together as to be virtually a visual experience of a quiet, country Texas evening around sundown time.

Aileen and Elkin have played on albums with such as Dylan, Seeger, Scruggs, Waylon Jennings, Rambling Jack Elliott, and toured with Leonard Cohen's band, experience which permeates this, their third album. As well as eight original Thomas songs, The Journey offers an instrumental from McKnight, Takin' My Bucket by Gail Davies, and the delightful Bill Staines composition River.

This album's an exquisite example of its genre. Beauty is often simple, making for short, tongue-tied reviews, but if their projected tour occurs, it would certainly be a downright pleasant evening.

Shantih Records are at P. O. Box 150, Krum, Texas 76249, USA.

Tony May