Review- “Born & Raised”- Joel Sweet

reviewed by Michael

Very rarely does one get the chance to hear pure, unfiltered folk the way Joel Sweet delivers it. The man’s name itself almost invites you into his music. Who can resist sweet things, after all?

What you’ll get is folk and lots of it. Lots of harmonica, lots of fiddle, and lots of acoustic guitar. No drums, no bass, just the pure sound of pining for home and for love.

Born & Raised is a very fitting title for this album. Most songs, if not all of them, refer to growing up, moving out and wanting to go back home. Of course, there’s enough about love as well.

The sound is produced by three musicians- Sweet himself plays acoustic guitar and harmonica, James McKie  plays fiddle and twelve-string guitar and Aaron Comeau is on double bass.The three of them together end up creating a sound that is wistful, like many a folk singer-songwriter.

If you want songs about missing your home, look no further than the songs “Eastbound Train” as well as “Far From Home” and “Orillia.” The first of the three listed is one of the best songs on the album, a song that could possibly be liked by those outside folk circles. Its simplicity is the key there.

“Far From Home” ties into not only the theme of missing the place you live but it’s also about growing up, something children never seem to want to do. “Orillia” in the meantime is an ode to the Ontario city, which is fittingly home to the Mariposa Folk Festival, though the tune is about the city as a home. Some of the lyrics are “Where the water flows free/Where the folks that raised my ma all live in peace.”

If you want more straight love songs, take a listen to “Rita” as well as “Lovely Lady.” Both are exceedingly romantic, much like the odes that poets used to write about the lovers.

Then, of course, there’s “Father Song,”  a tune almost seven minutes long. The song starts with a one-minute instrumental intro and then turns into a song that seems to be a dialogue between a boy and his father. It’s a heartwarming piece.

Check out the album’s title track to hear Sweet’s talent at playing harmonica or listen to “Long Stretch to Madoc” to hear McKie’s talent at the fiddle.

As I’ve said already, this is very raw folk. It may be too much for some people to handle, but for those who enjoy it it may become a treasure.

Stream or buy the album at Sweet’s Bandcamp.

Top Tracks: “Eastbound Train”; “Orillia”

Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)

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