I Stand Alone (Anti-)

Ramblin' Jack Elliott 

I Stand Alone (Anti-)

Protégé of Woody Guthrie, teacher to Bob Dylan, inspiration to Mick Jagger, 75-year-old Ramblin' Jack Elliott bulldozes the mountain-size pile of weepy singer-songwriter albums this year with ease on his 20th-odd release, I Stand Alone. Damn right, this Grammy winner stands alone. The album's cover art depicts the grizzled folk archetype in a cowboy hat and bandanna standing against wild hills. Pop this rambler into your CD player, and Elliott unloads story after story of trains crashing, dogs dying, wives cheating and drugs addicting. The fast-moving songs run two minutes apiece, and Elliott's hard-earned humor tempers the sorrow. Underneath, his flat-picking style and sense of rhythm simply stun. Flea plays some bass, X's drummer supports, and Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney sings. Goddamn! Weirdly, Anti- delivers this gem amid discs this year by stablemates the Coup and Tom Waits. Maybe the label knew that Elliott's enormous talent and concision would slice through the noise in every genre and speak to lovers of huge talent, pure and simple. Even if you never buy folk albums, buy this one.

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