Few 20th-century figures were more influential than Woody Guthrie.
The folk icon and Oklahoma native has a legacy and scope that span the
musical stratosphere, predating and inspiring genres from country to
Tribute albums like this can be tricky, however. So often these things become more about those covering the songs than the one who actually wrote them, and there are definitely moments here where the re-imagining of a Guthrie classic distracts from the weight of its original.
That said, there are some really beautiful updates: Ani DiFranco’s “Deportee” cover and Roseanne Cash’s take on “I Ain’t Got No Home” are tenderly bare-bones, much like Guthrie’s were. Joel Rafael’s “Ramblin’ Reckless Hobo” sounds almost exactly like pre-electric Bob Dylan — a testament to the profound influence Guthrie had on the voice of a generation.
Likewise, Woody Guthrie at 100!is, for the most part, careful not to forget the reason it was assembled in the first place. Even with such a reputable ensemble, the deep-seated impact of Guthrie’s legacy is its ultimate takeaway, succeeding as a portrait of the consummate American artist, both in sound and perspective. —Zach Hale