Sinners & the Saved
Virginia-based multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Alex Caton releases her second solo album, the Sinners and the Saved. Recorded at Levon Helm's studio in Woodstock, NY, this aptly titled work presents a rich mix of sacred, secular, and original tunes. Known locally in Charlottesville as "the siren of the strings," Alex commands her audience in an unassuming way with her mastery of the fiddle, engaging vocals, solid guitar backing and lively clawhammer banjo playing. A grandchild to master craftsmen, coal miners and strong women, and a daughter to adventurous parents, Alex was born in England and grew up living in the South of England, Scotland and America. Her varied past and experience as a musician (she first put bow to hand at age 5) informs every aspect of her recordings. What you hear more clearly than ever before on her new album is her confidence as a master and leader in Appalachian music, perhaps demonstrated best on the upbeat traditional banjo/fiddle duet "Call Your Dogs and Let's Go Hunting," featuring the great Richie Stearns (Natalie Merchant, The Horseflies, Donna the Buffalo) on banjo. With the additional backing help of other musicians on the cutting edge of bluegrass and old time music, the Sinners and the Saved delivers a truly American mix of driving traditional string band tunes alongside upbeat gospel numbers (covering Hank William Sr. and the inimitable Molly O-Day), honky-tonk and early country sounds, as a well as memorable originals that fit so perfectly alongside their southern cousins. Justin Guip, engineer on Levon Helm's grammy award-winning Dirt Farmer, co-producers the album and contributes drum parts. Alex's decision to record the Sinners and the Saved at Levon Helm's Studio was purely philosophical. Like Levon, she has a deep respect for the roots of American music (which are not so far removed from her roots in the UK) and a desire to make it accessible.