“Stories Seldom Told,” the first album from Ed Harvey, is about as Nebraskan as a recording can get.
The 15 songs evoke the state, whether Harvey’s singing of being “stuck here in Nebraska City,” missing his wife Carol on “Arbor Day,” “Longin’ for Long Pine” and the nearby “Hidden Paradise” canyon near Long Pine where he and his friends gather to play bluegrass each year or recounting the annual Sandhills ranching ritual of “Makin’ Hay.”
Prairie Dog Music will release Harvey's “Stories Seldom Told” during a 7 p.m. Saturday show at Mo Java Cafe & Roasting Co. 2649 N. 48th St.
Three songs on "Stories" are historic in nature. In “Soddies,” for example, Harvey recounts 19th century life in the sod houses of the Plains in a song that sounds like it came from the 1800s.
The other two songs recount little known events. “The Ballad of Duck Sherman” tells the story of a dim young outlaw who tried to rob a train carrying gold between Omaha and Lincoln, while “Sandhills Gold Rush” revisits the World War I era rise and crash of the potash industry around Antioch, now a ghost town.
The latter wouldn’t seem to be a natural subject for a song. But Harvey’s an impressive songwriter, filling the songs with compelling narratives and imagery and his baritone delivery is classic, telling stories while evoking the right emotions when called for.
To make the record, Harvey teamed up with Steve Hanson, who produced the fine sounding disc and plays acoustic, electric and hilo slide guitars, banjo, mandolin, mandocello, synthesizer and, along with DeAnn Allison, sings backing vocals.
They’re joined by some of Lincoln’s finest players, including fiddlers Terry Keefe and Sam Packard, Hanson’s brother Barry on piano, Chris Sayre on the saw and Steve “Fuzzy” Blazek, who contributes the steel guitar that underlies “Sometimes (But Not Today),” a song about cutting losses and walking away.
The acoustic-rooted music would likely be classified as Americana these day as it folds in bluegrass, most notably on “Coal Train,” folk on the protest song “Wilderness Gone,” and western on the historical songs.
No matter the tag put on it, “Stories Seldom Told” is one very fine, very Nebraskan album from a strong, new voice. Grade: A