VARIOUS ARTISTS > Wayfaring Strangers: Lonesome Heroes

David Kauffman sings “Kiss Another Day Goodbye,” one of 17 slices of American anomie on Wayfaring Strangers: Lonesome Heroes…

Wayfaring Strangers

VARIOUS ARTISTS

Wayfaring Strangers: Lonesome Heroes

(THE NUMERO GROUP)

[Rating:4 stars]

David Kauffman sings “Kiss Another Day Goodbye,” one of 17 slices of American anomie on Wayfaring Strangers: Lonesome Heroes, so disconsolately as to suggest that even his guitar has abandoned him. Like the previous volumes in Numero’s Wayfaring Strangers series, Lonesome Heroes charts the influence of mass idiosyncrasy, and makes it clear that the guitar tricks and wounded tone of late-’60s folkiedom proved as decisive an influence on a generation as did the Beatles or, for that matter, Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

If 2006’s Ladies from the Canyon documented Joni Mitchell’s influence, Lonesome Heroes amounts to a whistle in the dark during a confused age. That means the 1970s and early ’80s, and these obscure artists inhabited the decade of America (the rock group) and John Denver without tasting the era’s riches. Kauffman went from Indiana to Los Angeles and never made a ripple, although Les Moore–represented here by “Ooh-Pah-Do-Pah-Do”– cut a shelved album for Capricorn Records. “See those who blow a big nose/See them foul up the air,” Moore sings. “While some in slums suffocate/With Kleenex everywhere.” The music may be derivative, but if that’s not American poetry, what is?

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