The storyteller in question in the title of this album is the late James King, a friend of Remington Ryde lead singer and guitarist Ryan Frankhouser. It’s a tribute album in King’s memory and full of the types of story songs that King loved to perform. For the end of the album, Frankhouser includes his original tribute song “Mr. King” that memorializes King’s voice and works in the titles of several songs he used to perform. He then follows it with a bonus track of one of King’s own, “It’s A Cold Cold World.”
As a storyteller in his own right, Frankhouser brings to this album a wonderful understanding of the form, sound, and emotion necessary to make live the type of songs that largely dominate this album. They are not ballads, not in the strict sense. They are story songs, such as the heart-wrenching “Bed By The Window,” which details the life of two men confined in a hospital and how one of them keeps the other informed of the world going on outside their window. There’s also “Daddy Doesn’t Pray Anymore” written by Chris Stapleton, a modern master of the genre, Fred Elgersma’s “Thirty Years Of Farmin’,” and Hazel Dickens’ lament “A Few Old Memories.” As King painted a picture, so too does Frankhouser, perhaps not in King’s class, but not as far off as you might think.
Adding to the joy of this recording, one that seems not to have a bad track in the bunch, is the overall late ’50s/early ’60s sound quality. That is, in part, the result of the song selection, but also in the presentation of Frankhouser and bandmember Stanley Efaw, who tracked all of the banjo, mandolin, bass, and fiddle and added the harmony as well. A wonderful tribute all around. (Pinecastle Records, 2514 River Rd., Ste. 105, Piedmont, NC 29673, www.pinecastlemusic.com.)BW