Roosevelt Diggs: American Folklore
Album Info:Genre: Country & Folk
Positives:intricate multi-instrumentation, solid theme throughout album, good storytelling
Negatives:vocals may not sit well with some more traditional fans, would have liked them to have taken more risks
The boys in Roosevelt Diggs tell these old stories in a fresh light, and put new music to the tales that are a part of every american.
The concept album, or its attempt, can make or break a band – I have never really heard an “ok” concept album – They are usually either very well done, or they tend to fall flat. This tendency may be why I have seen very few come out of the Michigan music scene in recent years ( Traverse City’s Arbiter being a notable exception.)
Well, Roosevelt Diggs swung for the fences, and they hit it out of the park. American Folklore is an album in which each song recounts the tall tales of the american past – Stories like Johnny Appleseed and Paul Bunyan and Babe the Big Blue Ox are put to music, and the musical arrangement and lyrical content compliment each of their respective stories.
They utilize a variety of different folk instruments to tell these stories including: banjo, mandolin, melodica, harmonica, acoustic guitars, upright bass – the list goes on. And with theses they weave intricate songs that capture the essence of an earlier time when these stories of american legends were at their peak of popularity.
The nasal, almost whiny vocals might not be everybody’s thing, but for me they worked – and they almost might bridge the genre gap for some not as inclined towards folk (They remind me very much of Mike Herrera of MXPX in vocal style and tone.)
I also want to make a note that the packaging for this album is beautiful, each lyric page is accompanied by and original illustration of the song’s character – just a really nice touch!
Though this concept album is something of a Michigan rarity, it was probably the safest type of concept album they could have done – My one qualm with this album is just that – It’s a little on the safe side. The guys are talented musicians, and they are confident in their ability and style, but on the next record, I might like to see them take a few more risks.
All that said, the boys in Roosevelt Diggs tell these old stories in a fresh light, and put new music to the tales that are a part of every american.
Paul Bunyan (2:48)
John Henry (4:26)
Casey Jones (3:17)
Johnny Appleseed (2:20)
Pecos Bill (3:25)
Rip Van Winkle (5:37)