There is something very special indeed about this series of albums from Anti-Corporate Music, and each time I hear one I am taken away from my current environment and to a totally different time and space. The albums always follow the same format, in that the musical style will be bluegrass, dark country, or folk singer/songwriter and recorded in an intimate outdoor setting by a large magnolia tree at the Anti-Corporate Music/Black Matter Mastering headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee. Here we have Jason Dea West with a beautiful resonator guitar and a gentle kick drum, joined on a few tracks by Benjamin Tod of the Lost Dog Street Band, who apparently had been in a car accident earlier that day which delayed him arriving, but even though his truck was totalled he walked out to join in as soon as he got there.
The sound of insects, combined with a lack of electric guitars or effects, means this really does feel as if it could have been recorded any time in the last 100 years. This is music from a time gone by, traditional Americana, sounding as it would have when there was no such thing as radio and little in the way of recorded music, just real musicians playing songs they had either written themselves or had heard others play, often travelling from place to place to make a living. It is an unusual for an album series to get me as excited as this one, but ‘The Magnolia Sessions’ continues to deliver wonderful music, and Dea West is yet another discovery for me. His picking style and voice has been captured perfectly, and it is no surprise to realise that he has released a host of albums to date, as here is someone totally confident in his ability to be as raw and naked as it is possible to be. The equipment was set up, and he just played by the tree, creating something special, and thanks to the label we can be there with him as well. Clear and warm, it feels like we are there, and the black and white cover photo takes us back to older times. When Tod joins in on banjo the sound becomes even more full, mixing in with the guitar, taking us deep into bluegrass territory. Emotional and raw, this is a perfect antidote to the plastic music beloved of so many.
9/10 Kev Roland