This album comes with a back story which is explained in Buddy Miller’s sleeve note. Basically it’s the tale of a hard working musician who never got the breaks and eventually moved on. Now having been heard busking in Nashville, Seegers has been given a chance to make an album with some very talented players. He has such craftsmen and women as the aforementioned Buddy Miller, Emmylou Harris, Al Perkins, Barbara Lamb, Phil Madeira and producer Will Kimbrough playing here with him; names known to those who’ve heard some of the better albums coming out of Nashville in the past few years.
Seegers has written all the songs here bar the Gram Parsons/Chris Ethridge song She where he is joined, naturally, by Emmylou. The only other cover is There’ll Be No Teardrops Tonight from the pen of Hank Williams Snr which features Buddy Miller on vocals. There two voices work well together as both are suitably aged, soulful and rough around the edges, but this quality just adds necessary reality and truth to their delivery as they take a verse each and join together in the chorus. The main focus however should be on Seegers’ own songs, tale of heartbreak and transient relationships such Memory Lane, Gotta Catch that Train, Lonely Drifter’s Cry and Pour Me. On these tracks the catch in the voice reminds you of such masterly purveyors of pain as James Hand and Marty Brown.
He can also rock out, as on She’s In A Rock ’n’ Roll Band, with its prominent guitar and banjo. This highlight again the pure joy of the playing involved here and how this album works on a couple of levels and is real grower. I have returned to Gone Down to the River often and enjoyed the performances of all involved as well as the sense of passion invoked.
This may be Seegers one shot at success, or the start of something more long lasting. Either way he can be proud of this album. Kudos too, to Humphead, for releasing it in Europe and giving it Seegers a chance of bringing his music down to the river.