Honey from a black locust tree is sweeter than average and sometimes so clear it barely colors the glass that holds it. The music of the Ashville-based Locust Honey String Band’s newest CD, Never Let Me Cross Your MInd, has that same cast of semi- transparent purity. Georgia-born singer and fiddler Chloe Edmonstone, joined by guitarist and singer Meredith Watson, seem to be heart of the group. The album has a profoundly old time feel, from Edmonstone’s hard-driving fiddle breakdowns ( see “Boogerman” and “Logan County Blues”) to the piney-sounding vocal duet of “I’ve Forgotten More Than You’ll Ever Know About Her.”
The songs covered on “Never Let Me Cross Your Mind” fall into roughly four categories: traditional fiddle tunes such as “Boogerman” and “Four Cent Cotton,” some Carter Family favorites (“Righten That Wrong” and “Lonesome Song”), a pair of whiskey-tinged Nashville duets (Kitty Wells’ “Whose Shoulder Will I Cry On” and George Jones’ “ Just One More Time”) and three songs written by bandleader Edmonstone. My favorite of her originals is “Horse Drawn Buggy,” featuring reckless rhythm guitar and a biting nasal vocal from the songwriter herself, backed by some haunting dobro slide from her sidekick Watson. Watson’s resonator work reappears on the album’s closing number, a rousing, blues-tinged take on Darby and Tarleton’s “Columbia Stockade Blues.”
“Whose Shoulder Will You Cry On”
The band’s sound is ably filled out throughout by Ariel Dixon’s plucked banjo and supportive bass lines from Andy Deaver Edmonstone. None of these songs is allowed to drag on: they average three minutes in length, make their point and pull out, leaving the listener to savor echoes of the Appalachian past in whatever corner of his brain most resembles a mountain dance floor or a cabin deep sunk so deep into the cleft of a Blueridge gap that its inhabitants may never get out.