ARTIST: FUR DIXON AND STEVE WERNER

TITLE: TRAVELERS

LABEL: GRASS AND GRAVEL RECORDS

RELEASE DATE: JANUARY 1, 2009

BY CARL GAGE

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From the opening, Journey to Another Side, imaginatively set in a Mexican cantina, to the closing, Friends Around the Fire, singing under the moonlight with good friends, this is the album that we expected from the venerable down-home Van Nuys duo. It's imaginative, entertaining, melodic, beautiful and humorous; and it's a cover-to-cover sing-along, my favorite kind of musical entertainment.

Similar to their first collection, The Pearl and the Swine, the selections alternate between those written by Fur and those by Steve, except that this time two of Fur's were very effectively co-written by Ric Taylor. And it's also similar to the first CD, in that the ones about asphalt, dirt, engines and campfires are Steve's, while the pretty song department is well covered by Fur with If I Was Free (with Ric), My Blue Yodel and the gorgeous Summer's Gone Again.

As expected, Travelers is definitely about traveling. Several of the numbers are legitimate road songs and each one makes you think more about grabbing your hat and hitting the highway. Steve's Road Outside My Door, Homesick for the Highway Blues, Scars and Friends Around the Fire address that area well, as do Fur and Ric's Journey To Another Side and the one Steve and Fur collaboration, Ghost of a Traveling Man.

It should be noted however that this album is more than a collection of road songs. While being happy and fun to listen to, it occasionally delivers a serious message, as exemplified in Travelers, a wake-up call for a planet facing a potential eco-disaster. It's also about love, and lost love, as heard in Fur's captivatingly melodic numbers mentioned above.

With their wonderfully blended harmonies, Fur and Steve have a way of drawing you into a song, either singing along and harmonizing with them; trying your hand (or tonsils) at yodeling; or just closing your eyes and picturing the images that the songs deliver. However you listen, their music consistently provides a highly enjoyable experience and this album more than lives up to that expectation.

Beautifully produced by Dennis Moody and mastered by John Golden, the listenability is first-rate. Every note you want to hear from every instrument or voice is right there. Those instruments this time around include the elegant tones of Brantley Kearns' fiddle joining Paul Marshall on bass, Cliff Wagner on banjo and John McDuffie on Dobro and pedal steel, an excellent ensemble indeed.

This is one that you need to have in your acoustic music collection and you will find yourself playing it or mixing the tunes into your playlists more and more. My congratulations to Fur, Steve and their team for a job well done.


Carl Gage is a singer-songwriter, musician and writer based inSimi Valley, CA. He is active in the acoustic music community serving on theboards of the Topanga Banjo Fiddle Contest and Songmakers, Inc., managing web sites for the FAR-West FolkAlliance, Songmakers and Topanga, emceeing on the main stage at Topanga andother musical events throughout the year, and writing occasional articles for FolkWorks, The Bard Chord and other publications. http://carlgage.com