Southern writer Eudora Welty said, “A good snapshot stops a moment from running away.” Ogden Heart, the debut album from Ogden Heart (formerly The Family Band), does Welty proud. An eclectic compilation of traditional songs refashioned with unique arrangements, this album anchors the listener to a sense of place with lyrics about family, region, rebirth and hope. A mix of southern bluegrass and Americana, Ogden Heart echoes the heritage and traditions of the South that anchor in times of change. Joy, loss, love and reconciliation accent the songs recorded by Kathryn Caine and her children, Evans and Isabel Humphreys who recorded with James McLaughlin at Mountainside Studio in Charlottesville, VA. Listeners will hear the creativity that emerged from a period of profound grief: Caine explains: “When my dad died it intersected with my kids sojourn to college, and the need to capture songs that meant the most to us as a family, plus a few we wrote, led me back into the studio. Capturing a snapshot of what mattered in a tidal wave of change motivated me to preserve music that shaped me. The urgency to hold on to what was passing by so quickly led to many hours of arranging and reflecting on the lyrics and music passed down from my dad to me and then my kids. This album is a thread connecting generations of musicians with songs that tell a story we love.”
Caine is a seasoned musician, starting her career with the country punk band, The Waywards in Charleston, SC, who were a staple at the Music Farm when it was in it’s infancy. 12 albums and two adult kids later, Ogden Heart is in some ways is her magnum opus, a ladder out of a well of grief that resonates with roots in southern regional culture and musical progression. A Virginia native, Caine raised her kids in southeastern NC where the rural, agricultural area inspired many of her songs, Whiteville and Tobacco and Dust , two of her most noted. Caine trained her kids to sing and play and raised them in an extremely artistic household where literature, music, sports and philosophy were embraced. Evans on bass is exceptional and his smooth harmonizing brings to mind Crosby Stills and Nash. Isabel’s voice is haunting and sublime and coupled with her poetic lyrics, are reminiscent of Joni Mitchell and Alison Krauss. This is not your typical family bluegrass band. Isabel and Evans were exposed to all types music growing up and blend that exposure in the music they perform. Evans plays in several blues and funk bands at NC State, his biggest influence being the great Victor Wooten, and Isabel is a flute player who has been heavily involved in both classical music and musical theater. She is at home singing both bluegrass and Andrew Lloyd Weber I dont know How to love him from Jesus Christ Superstar sung by Isabel of The Family Band !
She is also a budding songwriter and captures the magic of the music of her youth in Backwoods Sound that Caine put to music and James McLaughlin of Mountainside Studio engineered. The most profound line of the song is the hook “Mona Lisa on a dirt road” that compares bluegrass to Da Vinci’s famous Mona Lisa. Other songs include Silver Dagger- a Kathryn Caine original, The Whiskey Song that echoes the style of J.J.Cale, Bill Monroe's The One I Love Is Gone, Soldier of the Cross written by Lorin Rowan, Tom Paxton's The Last Thing on My Mind The Last Thing On My Mind written by Tom Paxton (cover by Ogden Heart) and the great Mike Nesmith's Nine Times Blue, an absolute radio ready standout! Check out the YouTube video at Nine Times Blue By Mike Nesmith (cover by The Family Band)! There is also the gospel tinged Crossing by Roger Miller, Border Song by Elton John and the original song by Kathryn Caine The Bye and Bye that serves as a benediction to the album.
The lineup of musicians on the full length release are top notch gold. Rusty Speidel (Speidel, Goodrich and Goggins) on guitar,, Andy Thacker (Love Canon, Kathryn Caine) on mandolin, Sam Wilson (Sons of Bill, Mary Chapin Carpenter) on Pedal Steel, Kathryn Caine (Down Home Girl, Whiteville, When I Was His Wife) on acoustic and piano, John Lee on banjo, Evans Humphreys on bass and vocals, James McLaughlin on drums, and Isabel Humphreys on vocals. Ogden Heart captures the beauty, magic, and mystery of the rural South and Americana bluegrass music with poetic songs, brilliant guitar and mandolin licks, haunting and driving banjo, swelling steel, tight harmonies with a great rhythm section. And, the vocal talents of Isabel, Kathryn Caine and Evans. Ogden Heart was recorded, mixed and engineered by James McLaughlin at Mountainside Studio in Charlottesville, Va. It was produced by Kathryn Caine and James McLaughlin.
Mary Mac Ogden, PhD