This reviewer has a long history of being favorably inclined to old-time singing by husband-wife duos, especially those from the southern highlands. Their style of singing and accents are part of it, but perhaps more importantly, their intense impassioned delivery awakens emotions in me that few things do. For many years, special favorites of mine have been the Cooke Duet from Wise, Va., and E.C. and Orna Ball from Rugby, Va. There have been other fine duos over the years, but those two always stood out, although they sounded nothing alike.
Recently, I became aware of another husband-wife team, this time from Hurley, Va., and again their sound is completely their own. Apparently, Johnny and Edith Jackson have been around for years and are fine singers (several years ago, I reviewed an earlier CD by them). Their grandson James Stiltner accompanies them. Stiltner, an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, has played with other bands in the past, including Sammy Adkins and the Sandy Hook Mountain Boys. His backup on mandolin, banjo—but mostly crosspicked guitar—is clean and tasteful. Generally, Mr. Jackson sings lead and his wife the tenor, but on “House Of Gold,” she performs solo. Her clear mountain voice should be heard this way more often. This music may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but those who love “up the creek” singing should enjoy this set. (James Stiltner, P.O. Box 719, Hurley, VA 24620.)WVS