This is currently my favorite album. Ray Bierl has always been my favorite live performer, but I haven't heard him for many years. The song selection and the recording and performing are all amazing. No one will ever perform Big Joe and Phantom 309 as good as Ray. Also, I heard new great lyrics in the song that weren't in it when Tom Waits and I learned the song from Ray many years ago. I cannot say enough about how great this record is and what a treasure to all of American music Ray Bierl is. The best version I ever heart of "The Old Chisolm Trail" is on this record. Please make another album soon!
Ray Bierl: Reviews
"With the perfect timing of a master storyteller, Bierl holds this listener engrossed every time I hear [Phantom 309]; even though I've heard the story so many times before.
. . . [a] completely enjoyable album. . ."
"No one knows how to weave you into a song quite like Ray Bierl. the music on this record is down home elegant. You can hear the highway in his voice. From road dust to Stardust and every town in between."
I've never experienced a more fiercely lapel-grabbing ["All Around the Mountain"] than this one. As Bierl sings "All around the mountain / And it was so cold / You couldn't hear nothin' but the car wheels roll," you may notice that the temperature has fallen and all you're hearing are turning car wheels. . . . ["Tramps and Hawkers" is] an anthem of such visionary power that any singer not in full command of his powers should not even consider taking it on. Bierl is in full command of his powers.
Any Place I Hang My Hat is a road trip, and youâ€™re riding shotgun with Ray into a landscape that initially seems familiar and simple but at second glance reveals much more than youâ€™d imagine was there. You notice lyrics youâ€™ve never really listened to before and you understand old phrases in a new way. Ray Bierl not only knows how to make a song his own â€“ he knows how to make it yours.
"[Phantom 309,] a potentially maudlin story of a hitchhiker who gets picked up by ghost driver and rig becomes in Bierl's hands a touching tale of redemption and hope.'
"I love it! It is just right. It captures you well, and wonderfully, it is a good production. I like all the songs, it's just terrific! Well done!"
"I can't stop listening to it! It's really a wonderful job you did on
it in every way, singing, playing and choice of material. You really
know what suits you (a surprisingly rare faculty) and have a
completely open mind as to song choices. I wouldn't have figured
"Phantom 309" in a million years, but it is beautiful the way you do
it. I love the whole CD, but I think my particular favorite is "Lonesome Town". It is so pretty and you really got a great take. It's a lovely melody. Your fiddling sounds super and your voice is beautifully recorded. Kudos to Laurie for the production and all the musicians for such fine playing. I'm a fan!"
"Just wanted to tell you that I think your new album is absolutely
outstanding, excellent in every way: great songs, interesting and unusual, showing the breadth of your repertoire, superb delivery and performance of every song, fine production - tastefully restrained and at the same time courageous and bold arrangements, and the package simply looks great - understated but very attractive. But the best part is just what Tom Waits said - you know how to pull the listener into the song. You seem to find the essence of the song and present it so honestly that one cannot help but be drawn in, wanting to hear it all."
"I once sat in a kitchen for six hours and listened to Ray Bierl sing and
play the fiddle, and I would have sat there for another six if the hour hadn't gotten ridiculously late, because likely as not he had more songs. This CD makes you want to pull up a chair and listen. The songs are like a photo album of an American hobo's road trip through the heartland of the heart. It's a rich vein.
The production is stellar and the harmonies are perfect for the songs. Mark Graham's harmonica work and Ray's fiddling and seasoned voice make this a real gem."