As I’m sitting here, hunched over my desk, considering Prairie Empire’s recent Folkadelphia Session, I’m struck by how sonically perfect these recordings are for this moment in time. Right now, it is late morning and the sun is just high enough to pierce through the corner of my curtains, casting a diffused window-shaped white light over the wooden boards of my floor. Outside snowflakes are being thrown around by gusts so that here, inside my room, the shadows, co-mingling with the errant floating dust, seem more like a glimmer from a cosmic wintry disco ball. It’s wonderfully exciting, yet tender, and so is Prairie Empire, the vehicle for Brittain Ashford’s songs that seem designed for thoughtful winter reflection and introspection.
On this trip to Philadelphia, Ashford (on autoharp & dulcimer) was joined by Layne McNish on cello and Adam Jacobson on drums, which allowed for a sound that was quite rich and full for a trio sized configuration. Constantly bringing life to the lush chamber-folk music is Ashford’s highly emotive voice that cries out and demands attention. It seems to glow with a deep desire and is marred by a gentle hurt, a thawing from the depths of hibernation, a need to awake and live. At my desk, here on this snowy, sunny morning, I feel hope and life springing anew, perhaps the start of the great defrosting, fueled by Prairie Empire.
Prairie Empire woke up early to record this session the morning after their Folkadelphia-presented concert at the Green Line Café on Friday, January 4th 2013.