Fox Hollow Memories: Songs I Wrote With Dixie and Tom T. Hall

Troy Engle

Rocky Glen Music RGM-320

Fox Hollow, legendary singer-songwriter Tom T. Hall’s rustically elegant estate near Franklin, Tennessee, was often a gathering place for his extended musical family.

` For quite a long time during his formative years, Troy Engle, a well-credentialed singer, songwriter and picker who now heads his own accomplished bluegrass band, was a fixture in Tom T.’s and his late, beloved wife Dixie’s inner circle. As such, he cowrote quite a few songs with the Halls.

Engle’s estimable band, Southern Skies, out of Glen Rock, Pennsylvania, includes: Engle (lead vocals lead guitar and various other instruments), Mandy Engle (vocals and upright bass) Jenny Pickel (fiddle and lead and harmony vocals), Adam Kruzic (mandolin) and Steve Streett (banjo, fiddle and just about everything else).

Quite a few of these 12 finely crafted songs have already been recorded elsewhere, but Engel & Co. have done a great service in gathering them together and reprising them in such sterling fashion.

On the title tune, which is steeped in nostalgia and a wistful sense of longing for those halcyon days, Engel movingly recounts the informality of his writing process with the Halls. More often than not, the three of them, along with other assorted guests, would sit around the kitchen table, drinking coffee or eating fried bologna sandwiches. Then someone would come up with a catchy line or phrase and they were off to the races.

Gospel odes dominate this collection. These range from the exquisitely tender (“Be What You Want Your Neighbors To Be,” “Angels Gathering Flowers” and “Mama What Does It Look Like In Heaven There”—featuring the Isaacs on guest vocals) to rollicking celebrations like “Welcome Aboard” (a high-spirited ride on a gospel train) and the tongue-in-cheek “Fisherman’s Prayer.”

Other selections, such as “Let’s Go Walking Again” (featuring a brief recitation by Tom T. himself), “Putting On My Leaving Shoes” and “That’s Kentucky” (a rousing tribute to the home state of Daniel Boone, Abraham Lincoln, Bill Monroe and … Tom T.) celebrate the understated beauty and reveries of everyday life.

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