[ANIMAL FOLK SONGS] It's rare that you get to think critically about an album mostly concerned with cabbage, squirrels and jigging along home. But here we are with Red Yarn's Deep Woods Revival, a record written as a children's album that easily doubles as an old-time folk anthology.
Behind these animal-themed story songs is multi-instrumentalist Andy Furgeson, formerly the frontman of Portland folk-rock outfit Bark, Hide and Horn, and now a puppeteer and educational entertainer. And while lyrics like "I wish I was a mole in the ground" are admittedly hard to connect to if you're older than, say, 8, Furgeson's arrangements offer a little more depth than typical kids music. Sure, there are songs about one-eyed gophers and hares named Molly—plus an updated version of "Skip to My Lou," featuring a Noah's ark reference and a whole lot of accordion, whose borderline-disheveled delivery nearly knocks the album off its tracks—but the album, produced by Adam Selzer of Norfolk and Western, overflows with such creativity that it's easy for adults to get swept up in it.
Reimagining and updating the songs many of us sang while growing up, Deep Woods Revival adds a streak of modern accessibility and influence to simple folk diddies. A beefed-up version of "Ain't Gonna Rain" takes the beaming hope of the 150-year-old folk song and douses it in big, booming drums atop wailing distortion, lending it more edge and confidence than one might expect. Later, "Crosseyed Gopher" lays slide guitar on thick, cascading layers that drip with longing, aided by Furgeson's wavering drawl. It's hard to say what a cross-eyed gopher pines for—or how to escape the children's sing-along chorus of "Jig Along Home"—but if you can get on board with Red Yarn's scurrying, simple world, Furgeson will gladly show you.
SEE IT: Red Yarn plays The Old Church, 1422 SW 11th Ave., on Sunday, June 21. 3:30 and 5:30 pm. $8. All ages.