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Fret Not - Gloryland - American Funeral Songs

In Almere, they know what rememberance means.  They know the dead live on because we are alive.  This past Saturday, De Nacht Van De Ziel, (The Night of the Soul), took place for a second time, at a cemetary in Almere Haven.  They themselves described it as Links with the Past.  Please take a look at the site and find yourself speechless as you see the pictures hanging from a clothesline above the graves.

In Oakland, California, they know what rememberence is as well.  The new album of Fret Not is called Gloryland - American Funeral Songs.  They themselves lable it as Old-time American Roots-Gospel, and that is exactly what it is, performed with passion and conviction.  Because who would not be able to smile through their tears when there is hope?

Fret Not is full of belief.   You could call the words of Paul,  "Death, where is your sting?  Death where is your triumph?" (1Cor 15), the thin red line of these sixteen songs, all of them traditionals.  Some songs are familiar (
Thomas Dorsey's 'How About You' and William Walker's 'This World Is Not My Home'), most of them are more or less unfamiliar, performed with love - love for the songs, and love for the dead.

As such, Fret Not frontman, Greg Arthur, printed a 1934 preaching of his late grandfather who was a Methodist preacher.  At that point in time, Walter Arthur buried the then young Jean Dennis, who would have never been able to expect that you would be reading her name today.  In this sense, she lives on.  Art is a chain of art.  Art chains people and the world, like in the works of the great Czeslaw Milosz.  In a Los Angeles Times book review, a reviewer wrote touchingly that the works of Milosz are "
as much a protest against the disappearance of people, objects and ideas, as it is a commendation of the unstoppable forward movement of this time."

You could read this definition of Gloryland - a credo, shaped with banjo, dobro, mandolin, violin, bass, and drum, and voices that point at both hope and despair.  And no matter how beautifully performed and sung these numbers are, there is at the same time something raw and commonplace to this album, exactly as it would sound if it would all be sung beside an open grave.  At the end of the funeral, Grandpa Arthur sang an old and almost forgotten hymn, 'My Father, He Knows It All'.  It is the last track on this album.  I think about my grandfather, who taught me to walk down the stairs backwards when I was little.  Against the grain in the right direction.  Bye Grandpa.

This is not expressible in stars (rated 3 1/2 stars).  These are the stars themselves.  We look up.

Wim Boluijt
Hanx Editor     
Hanx is an on-line review from the Netherlands of all forms of  Americana music.  You can see the original review in Dutch on Hanx at the link below.  We are thankful for the kind words from Hanx and the glory all of this brings to the One who will welcome into Gloryland all who by faith in Him will receive His gift.
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Hanx Review of Gloryland