Putumayo Presents Americana

By WERNER TRIESCHMANN  |  September 18, 2007
1.5 1.5 Stars
Gathering 12 “contemporary singer-songwriters” who “explore America’s rural musical roots,” this well-intentioned collection gives the impression that America’s musical history consists of polite coffeehouse country/bluegrass/folk tunes that wouldn’t rouse a sleepy Prairie Home Companion listener. By including New York City’s the Little Willies — a band who happen to have a singer named Norah Jones — Putumayo demonstrates that it’s not exactly beating the bushes for fresh talent. (And if playing it safe is the label’s intention, then there are some pretty obvious omissions, like Lucinda Williams and Ryan Adams.) Mulehead’s rough-voiced ballad “Frankie Lee” and Eliza Lynn’s piano-driven “Sing a New Song” have the kind of musical quirks that hint at something genuine. But most of what you’ll find here is about as appealing as the disc’s candy-colored cover, which has got to be in the running for one of the ugliest of the year.
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