Review by Art Menius for Bluegrass Unlimited April 1999
My Rose of Old Kentucky City Lights Colleen Malone Shady Grove My Heart Has Turned to Stone Let It Be Me Auctioneer Big Spike Hammer Devil Woman Oh, Susanna 500 Miles Back in the Saddle Again Explanation of the Blues Little Annie Streets of Japan
Best known as composer of “So Wrong, So Long,” southern California’s Walden Dahl has performed for a quarter-century with such outfits as Lost Highway, the High Window Boys, Grey Eagle, and the Coyote Brothers. The most excellent “Walden Dahl” marks his solo recording debut.
Dahl’s songwriting impresses. “My Heart Has Turned to Stone” proves as good a new traditional bluegrass song as I’ve enjoyed in some time. The album features straightforward, laid back interpretations with relentlessly solid playing and arrangements. All are veterans, best known being long-time Good Ol’ Person Paul Shelasky on fiddle.
Dahl’s voice resembles Marty Robbins in both its range and delicacy. The latter prejudices him in favor of medium tempo bluegrass, which he handles most effectively. Yet it becomes essential to achieve variety through diverse selections such as Robbins’ “Devil Woman.”
“Walden Dahl” might contain a song or two too many, and the cover’s something less than Spartan. More significantly, the mix occasionally proves dreadful and always inconsistent. That’s a shame because this is a very good record with some terrific cuts. The Walden Dahl Band deserves national distribution and a good budget. To get that you have to tour nationally. To tour nationally you need a series of successful records well distributed. And so it goes.