On February 9th, folk singer John McCutcheon will be releasing his 39th studio album entitled “Ghost Light”. Once again, John McCutcheon continues to find a way to reinvent himself through stories of Americana, Main Street, protest, and spirituality.
For this record, McCutcheon recruited some friends in fiddler Stuart Duncan, and vocalists Kathy Mattea and Tim O’Brien for this project. 30 songs were written for “Ghost Light”, however, 13 made the cut, which leaves it wide open for McCutcheon to create a 40th record.
Those that are not familiar with McCutcheon will be familiar with his blend of folk, Americana, and a touch of country-western music in his music. From a lyrical standpoint, McCutcheon has mastered the art of storytelling in his music as it touches on many topics. One of the topics that the music touches on is small town life and Main Street U.S.A. in the songs “A Perfect Day” and “Big Day”. The imagery in the songwriting makes it feel like the listener is reading some really neat stories that can be told on the grandparents’ back porch as “Big Day” talks about the big annual concert that comes to a small town and “A Perfect Day” is about one of those days where everything seems to go right and it causes the person to be Whistlin’ Dixie. Stuart Duncan does an impeccable job with the fiddle to give “A Perfect Day” the perfect country-western vibe.
Other themes that are expressed includes the ideal of protest in the song “The Machine”. In “The Machine”, the songwriter feels lament and feels a lifetime of regret. The narrator in the song talks about a 92 year old veteran(which we can presume is a World War II or Korean War vet), talks about how he’s lamenting seeing a country that fought against fascism has turned into a country that is fascist. There was a shoutout to Woody Guthrie and his guitar in the chorus, in which the chorus finishes up with “the machine kills fascists/we must be the machine”. McCutcheon does a tremendous job in his songwriting providing the imagery as I envisioned the veteran at a military funeral and lamenting in regret instead of the veteran being proud of his country.
Lastly, there are songs that have a sense of romanticism and spirituality, as in the case in the songs “She Just Dances” and “Me and Jesus”. In “She Just Dances”, McCutcheon describes a woman’s beauty without the woman realizing that she’s just beautiful and breathtaking. It is just a breathtaking, romantic, and classy song to listen to. In “Me and Jesus”, McCutcheon displays his humility and reminds people that Jesus was there for the least of these and came for the sinners and the tax collectors of the world. McCutcheon even explores further creativity in “When My Fight For Life Is Over” as he completes the lyrics from a set of Woody Guthrie’s lyrics, which further reinforces the songwriting abilities that McCutcheon possesses.
McCutcheon’s voice is deeply honest and powerful in the lyrics. The choruses are catchy as all get out, the arrangements in the music flow nicely with the lyrics in the songs. McCutcheon paints a real picture of Americana in these songs, with a nod to the folk of yesteryear while keeping it fresh like a new coat of paint. Madness To Creation rates this a solid 9 out of 10 stars. Check out the track listing below!
- A Perfect Day
- This Road
- She Just Dances
- Big Day
- The Machine
- Ghost Light
- Waiting For The Rain
- Burley Coulter At The Bank
- Dark Side Of This Town
- Me And Jesus
- Story Of Abe
- When My Fight For Life Is Over
John McCutcheon will be on tour in support of “Ghost Light”! Check out tour dates below!
Feb. 07 – Daytona Beach, FL – Lemerand Auditorium
Feb. 08 – Ponte Vedra Beach, FL – Ponte Vedra Concert Hall
Feb. 09 – St. Petersburg, FL – Craftsman House
Feb. 10 – Port Charlotte, FL – Riverwood Activity Center
Feb. 16 – Oxford, NY – Six on the Square
Feb. 17 – Penfield, NY – Golden Link Folk Singing Society
March 01 – Olympia, WA – Traditions
March 02 – Corvallis, OR – First Presbyterian Church
March 03 – Portland, OR – Alberta Rose Theater
March 05 – Seattle, WA – Triple Door
March 23 – Auburn, AL – Auburn UU Fellowship
March 24 – Westminster, SC – Westminster Music Centre
April 08 – Lawrence, KS – Lied Center of Kansas
April 10 – Green Valley, AZ – West Center Auditorium
April 19 – Vienna, WA – The Barns of Wolf Trap
April 20 – Richmond, VA – Tin Pan
April 21 – Marlinton, WV – Pocahontas County Opera House
May 03 – Cleveland Heights, OH – Nighttown
May 04 – Ashtabula, OH – Lakeside Performing Arts Center
May 18 – Carrboro, NC – The Art Center
May 19 – Asheville, NC – Isis Music Hall
For tickets and further information for any of the shows listed above, click here!