I’m not going to lie—when I grabbed the newest CD in the stack for review, I didn’t think much beyond that the woodcut cover art was unique. When Put All Your Troubles Away by the Foreign Landers started spinning, it only took a few seconds to grab my attention and it never let go. It went from “Who is THAT?” when Tabitha Agnew Benedict let out the first words to Gordon Lightfoot’s “I’m Not Sayin’” to a frantic Google search to learn more about this duo.
Foreign Landers is a husband-wife duo—Tabitha is from Northern Ireland and David is from South Carolina. They met at the IBMA World of Bluegrass in Raleigh in 2017, hit it off immediately as they discovered that despite growing up an ocean apart, their musical tastes were perfectly aligned, as are their harmonies. They were married in 2019.
While the group is new, these artists are not. Tabitha put in time with the wonderfully eclectic British bluegrass band Midnight Skyracer and David worked with Missy Raines and Mile Twelve
If there is a complaint about Put All Your Troubles Away is that it is an EP with just six songs. The duo put most of the work in while quarantined for six months in Northern Ireland in the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown.
In addition to the Lightfoot tune, their take on John Hartford’s “Put All Your Troubles Away,” would have made the legend proud. They also took the lyrics to “The Leaves So Green” and created new music.
The other three cuts: “Finn’s Rescue,” “Song for Riddle” and “Knowing You” make for a great, if short ride. The duo can be forgiven though, as this debut led to the full length and just recently released Travelers Rest, an album named for their current town in South Carolina. Look for a review of that album soon.