Norman & Nancy Blake -

Just Gimme Somethin' I'm Used To

Shanachie, 1991

As the title suggests, this album doesn't set out to shock anyone, especially not those familiar with Norman & Nancy's relaxed style of old-time country music. At over 60 minutes, this album marks the Blakes' real entry into the CD world, which is ironic since their own record collection probably consists mostly of 78s.

If you've seen Norman and Nancy in concert recently, this album is indeed something you're used to: just the two of them, no other players and no apparent overdubs. Four of the thirteen tracks are instrumental duets with Norman on fiddle and Nancy on cello, one is a guitar instrumental, and the remainder are ballads on which Norman sings lead, backed by Nancy's harmonies and both of their guitars. Whether bowing or picking, the Blakes play together so smoothly they sound like one. Norman plays the lead parts, but Nancy's playing is filled with bass runs and fills that elevate it above mere accompaniment. On the fiddle/cello duets it's impossible to say who's accompanying whom, and these present a side of the Blakes' that I especially enjoy. The ballads are mostly melancholy, including a variant of the ancient "Little Matty Groves" and the cowboy tragedy "When The Work's All Done This Fall", and are suited well to Norman's relaxed, easy vocal style.

Curiously, no writing credits are given anywhere on the disc or in the booklet, so apart from "Wabash Cannonball" and a few other obvious ones I'm unsure whether the tunes are originals or traditionals. That in itself is a tribute to this duo's ability to show their deep reverence for tradition while creating a sound distinctly their own.

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