BLACK IS THE COLOR
OLD JOE CLARK
POOR WAYFARING STRANGER
RED ROSEY BUSH
I WONDER AS I WANDER
THE NIGHTING GALE
JOHNNY HAS GONE FOR A SOLDIER
There's no particular reason why popular folk-singing has mostly been a man's world. It just turned
out that way. But it turns out now not to be a male exclusive, for a very good reason - Jo Stafford.
Her more recent fans may he surprised that Jo, long a very popular ballad singer, is heard here as a troubadour. Her fans
of longer acquaintance will remember, though, that this is not her first venture into the folk field. However, it surely is
her most memorable and moving folk performance.
An important part of this album's impact is Jo's ability to tell a story. For folk songs are really no more than stories in
song. And each of these tunes, especially the ballads of love and yearning, gain from Jo's sense of narrative. Add a warmly
expressive voice to her story-telling powers and you can well imagine (in fact, you'll soon hear for yourself) that Jo has
few equals among today's folk-singers.
Unlike most balladeers, Jo is accompanied not by a guitar, but by a full string-reed ensemble conducted by her husband, Paul
Weston. The ensemble adds a surprisingly simple, richly lyric quality to the already lovely ballads. On four brighter tunes,
the ensemble steps back to make way for a banjo-guitar-bass trio headed by Joe Maphis, an extremely talented banjoist. With
Jo singing, and Joe plucking, and Paul arranging, "American Folk Songs" have seldom been given a finer treatment.
Produced by Lee Gillette.