Caitlin R. Kiernan | Birmingham, AL United States | 06/01/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There's a film that Jean-Pierre Jeunet will direct sometime in the next ten years, a cybernoir affair set in a ruined New Orleans after the levees have finally burst once and for all, and the city has been permanently inundated by an ultratoxic Mississippi. It will be something about black-market biotech, or mistaken identity, or both. Somehow the year will be both 1929 and 2093. And throughout the film will run a soundtrack as dark and quirky, as trippy and eclectic, as the movie itself. The familiar strains of traditional Appalachian ballads, blues standards, dust bowl folk; the harmonicas traded for electronica, but still a banjo and dobro here and there, and over it all, sultrysharp vocals as rich and disarming as the greenblack waters of the drowned French Quarter . . . Now, if you can imagine that, you have a pretty good idea what to expect from Snakefarm's Songs From My Funeral, a collection of covers, or, more precisely, reworkings, of classic ballads, from "Banks of the Ohio" (as chilling as anything on Nick Cave's Murder Ballads) to "Black Girl" (a witchy sort of take on "In The Pines") to the profoundly creepy "Pretty Horses." Frontwoman Anna Domino's stunning vocals are the high point of this unexpected gem, a voice that is at once smoky and crisp, somber and wickedly stormy, perfectly matched to the task of bringing new and disturbing life to even such overworked material as "The House of the Rising Sun.""
The Most Haunting and Compelling Melodies To Date
ravenmaden | Tulsa, OK United States | 07/18/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I stumbled upon this band purely by accident, on an online radio station and was instantly captivated. I have to admit, I immediately tried finding mp3 downloads, to little avail. The songs would not leave my consciousness, and after hearing the songs again on same, had to purchase the CD. These songs are so beautifully done, entrancing your imagination as the instrumentation sweeps you away. I only wish Anna Domino had done more of like nature. This album is a must have for those of you who like the music of Poe, Beth Orton or Portishead. Very, very well done."
Everything old is new again
M. Swinford | 04/22/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I believe most Americans will recognize the titles to most if not all the tracks on this album. We've had to sing these songs around the campfire or in Elementary School music classes etc., at least I did. I never really listened to them, even when I was singing and playing them, until I heard this CD. Snakefarm makes them fresh again, so they're no longer that tired, old, uncool, stuff we grew up with. The new arrangements allowed me to really hear the songs and to understand why they're still being sung after so many years. Great CD. Buy it!"
Watch out. This is modern folk music to peel back your ears.
M. Swinford | 07/25/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Pete Seeger must be rolling in his grave ... and he isn't even dead yet. After listening to what Anna Domino and Michel Delory have done to these old standards, you immediately realize that this is not your father's folk music. Although uneven, "Songs From My Funeral" is perhaps the most arresting, and successful, attempt to update acoustic ballads to come down the pike in years. Whether you call it "acid-blues" or "troubador trip-hop," most of these tunes rock out in ways that their composers probably never dreamed of when they were written. Domino sings without much emotion, but her cool and measured delivery brings a matter-of-fact quality to the dark lyrics, with their emphasis on the themes of death and sex. Actually, she sounds a bit like Patricia Barber or Marianne Faithfull adopting the style of Leonard Cohen and the Tindersticks. This could have been disastrous. Instead, her restrained voice serves to draw fresh attention to what are otherwise familiar words. The strongest tracks here are the beautifully brutal "Banks of the Ohio," which has a slightly different melody from the version you usually hear, and "John Henry," the enduring protest worksong about the human consequences of automation. "This Train That I Ride" possesses an urgency not usually caught in more conventional approaches to this well-worn anthem of loss, and "St. James" seems almost experimental in its uptempo instrumental arrangement. "Frankie and Johnny" also has a very contemporary feel to it. "Laredo" slowly builds upon increasingly grim imagery until it reaches a cathartic climax, and "Tom Dooley" makes the ancient tale of the doomed murderer as futuristic as tomorrow's headlines. Only "Rising Sun" and "Black Girl" appear to fail on their own terms when compared to the originals. Purists will indeed find these pieces disturbing and outrageous. But by incorporating an electronic dimension into this music, and breathing new rhythms into it, Snakefarm may be just what these tunes need to gain a new audience for the next century. "Songs From My Funeral" isn't for everybody. Yet, for those who keep an open mind about the value of translating the classics of the past into a relevant form for the present, it will reward that curiosity and faith in a most satisfying manner. Who knows, it may even get your kids interested in relics like Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs and Patrick Sky."