"On the happy day when I finally found this disc, there was an elderly woman tending the cash register at the store I was in. When checking out, she looked at the disc and sighed,"Oh, Jo Stafford. I had forgotten how GOOD she was." Indeed. "American Folk Songs" may have been an effort to make a little hay with early '60s folk revival, but it isn't the long-neck banjo variety of hokum served up by the Kingston Trio and other knockoffs. It is not another John Hammond discovery from the hinterlands of Appalachia. Nor is it the tuneless verbosity of Dylan. It is singing and arranging of the highest caliber, using 19th century (or thereabouts) American standards as a conduit for unparalled folk expression. Jo unquestionably was one of the finest voices in 20th century popular music. While not a jazz singer per se, her big band credentials were second to none. Classically trained, her voice was an instrument of exquisite nuance. She possessed a warm 'analog' quality that, frankly, is now almost a museum piece. This disc offers the Copeland-esque arrangments of Paul Weston (hubby) as the very American sounding bed for Jo's artistry. And she delivers. There has never been a more arresting version of "Shenandoh." Each verse builds slightly in intensity, as the open fifths of the strings and woodwinds evoke frontier imagery. "Red Rosy Bush" is simply painfully beautiful. As is "The Nightin Gale." I concur with the other reviews that the up-tempo stuff falls very flat. But the ballads merit my 5 stars. I have a fairly extensive record collection, and this is unquestionably one of my most played picks. Highly recommended."
Beautifully Vocal and Haunting
Your Pet Poodle | 10/30/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you ever doubt Jo Stafford is this century's greatest female singer listen to Shenandoh. It is amazing at what a beautiful voice she has. It is unreal. I liked the upbeat and mournful songs. It is exactly what it says folk songs deliverd by the world's most beautiful voice."
Your Pet Poodle | 06/26/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I tried for years to get this album. Finally I wrote directly to Jo Stafford, asking where I could purchase it. She not only made the album available for purchase, but she and her husband Paul Weston autographed it. It is one of my most cherished possessions. The albumn is just as classy as they are. Also required listening, Ski Trails, G.I. Joe, and a wonderful collaboration with Gordon McCrae, Whispering Hope."
Lovely, but not consistent
Your Pet Poodle | 08/21/1998
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Lush, mournful, moody instrumentation/vocals for traditional songs (Shenandoh, Barbra Allen, I Wonder As I Wander), then suddenly upbeat banjos for Single Girl and Cripple Creek. I don't know what they were thinking when they made this combination, but the slow sad songs are wonderful and make up most of the album. This album goes next to Sinatra's "Songs for Only the Lonely" in the lovely but painfully sad category."
Ond of a Kind
Jim Holtz | Madison, Wi United States | 06/17/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Jo Stafford's AMEICAN FOLK SONGS is one of a kind album because its fulfills a folk song void that is in today's music market & it's her best Capitol Record's material I've ever heard. All 12 songs out do each other & Shenandoah out does them all. In Amazon's song listings of the same song on different recordings [that also happen to be on this cd]; Red Rosey Bush has only 6 album listings, Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier has 3O, Poor Wayfaring Stranger only 1, The Nightingale maybe 20, & Single Girl maybe 30. The last 2 are difficult to differentiate from similar song title listings. It's marvelous to have such treaures on 1 cd. Her voice was magnificent like her other later albums. Jo's voice was wistful yet vibrant, powerful but never overbearing. Her voice got better with age & she wisely quit before it could decline. Famous pop contemporaries (Patt Page & Rosemary Clooney, jazz giants (Billie Holiday, Joe Williams & Mel Torme) & later musical superstars (Johnny Mathias & Judy Collins) all were greatly impressed & influenced by the unniquely talented Jo Stafford voice. P.S I find the strings enhance the ballads but some purists might be offended. For them., there's the upbeat numbers with banjo, guitar, & bass."