Stace England

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Stace England: Greetings From Cairo, Illinois
(Gnashville Sounds Records)
 
A disc magisterial in its conception and its execution alike, Stace England’s Greetings From Cairo, Illinois may at a glance appear to be a jape, a goof, instead of an extraordinary meld of music and history. The liner notes to the April Gnashville Sounds release state that the titular city’s “flooding and seep water from the rivers, corruption, wide open vice, poorly conceived real estate speculation, blatant racism, racial conflict and sometimes sheer bad luck all conspired to hold it back from greatness.” England—a resident of Cobden, Illinois (part of the Anna-Jonesboro metroplex)—encapsulates Cairo’s history here on 11 tracks with the help of a small army of other musicians, including Jason Ringenberg, who provides vocals on the locomotive tenth, “Prosperity Train.” After opening with the lovely a cappella traditional “Goin’ Down to Cairo,” Greetings ranges formally from the blues (“Cairo Blues”) to bluegrass (“The North Starts in Cairo”) to Southern rock (“White Hats”) to funk (“Jesse’s Comin’ to Town”). Arguably the most memorable track: the chillingly jaunty “Equal Opportunity Lynch Mob.” Buy this!
 
 - Bryan Hollerbach