Devotional music and its devotees all do a bit of “buying in”; that while one’s on the ground reality may appear anything but celestial, through this music, one can reach ecstatic space, ecstatic peace. However, devotional music is not solely concerned with a skyward glance – what does it look like to raise up the rust, look upon fractured branches, gaze at the density of a low fog across a field? Instead of us looking up at the land, what if the land was looking back at us? Old Saw brings together a brigade of New England silt sifters to raise up the land not as excavators, but as preparators. Tending and caring for the simple mess that our world discards. Throughout “Country Tropics” four pieces, the crew stretches and bends chords to their resting place before setting forth towards a new one. Fiddle drone, wistful tape loops of pedal steel, pipe organ hums, and clattering bells call us to scenes of observation, a water tower, a mechanical bull rental agency, a back porch, a taxidermy shop, a local church choir, a garden with singing vines, voltage hum of the electric fence on Pulp mill bridge road.
The funny thing about devotion is the absence of sight, of source. We place trust in the guide or guides to bring us to a place of seeing, feeling, and hearing. The music on “Country Tropics” calls out to those in search of such places, but also doesn’t demand we conjure some fantastical, celestial vision of understanding. Rather, Old Saw points our gaze downward towards the terrafirma unconsidered, and guides our hands into the dirt.
Henry Birdsey – pedal steel, lap steel
Bob Driftwood – banjo
Ira Dorset- fiddle
Rev. Clarence Lewis – pipe organ
Harper Reed – resonator guitar, nylon string guitar
Ann Rowlis – orchestral bells
Recorded by Henry Birdsey at Meridian HQ in February 2021
Mastering by Andrew Weathers