The Rose of Roscrae

The Rose of Roscrae

by Tom RussellTom Russell


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Tom Russell's The Rose of Roscrae is the final album in a trilogy that began back in 1998 with The Man from God Knows Where. That recording explored his family's origins in Norway, Ireland, and the American West. He followed it with 2005's Hotwalker, which looked deeply at post-WWII American culture and mythologized sometimes marginal figures from the worlds of art, film, literature, and more. For Russell, no myth is larger than life; it is life itself. The Rose of Roscrae, is a sprawling folk opera, or Western musical, complete with libretto -- Russell is ambivalent about defining it. Over two discs and 52 selections (many narrated, most sung), Russell delivers an epic that moves from Ireland and Texas, the Plains, California and Mexico to Canada, prisons in the deep South, carnival shows, and all the way back. His cast is equally large: Maura O'Connell, Joe Ely, Dave Olney, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Gretchen Peters, Eliza Gilkyson, Jimmy LaFave, Augie Meyers, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Ian Tyson, and dozens more. Further, along with his own songs, Russell licensed others, plus field recordings with the voices of Johnny Cash, Lead Belly, John Trudell, Walt Whitman, Tex Ritter, and more, adding depth and weight. Real and fictional characters are hard-stitched into his seamless narrative. Part of his story is inspired by his sister-in-law, who ranched a 3,000 acre spread in California after being abandoned by his brother, a cowboy. The story's "hero" is Johnny Dutton, reflecting back on his 95 years. He recounts his tale of being a teenager in love with Rose Malloy in County Tipperary, Ireland in the 1880s. After a savage beating by her father, he flees across the Atlantic, becomes a cowboy, and then an outlaw: Johnny Behind-The-Deuce. He writes to Rose and lures her to America. They marry but he later abandons her after being encouraged by his cousin, Joseph Dutton -- who has his own redemption later in the story -- to return to the wild life. The journey is Homeric. Characters such as Joseph Dutton and the mystical priest Father Demian -- who runs a leper colony on Molokai -- are historical figures. Disc two is from Rose's perspective sung by O'Connell. She'd married Johnny, been abandoned, ranched alone, seen him return, run him off, moved back to Ireland, and returned his letters unopened when he continued to pursue her. Her perspective on love reveals the stark difference about love between women and men. The pair end up together, but as friends, sharing the weight and wonder of life during a remarkable period in history, with all of its hardscrabble, spiritual mystery. And the music? Folk, rock, country, the Norwegian Wind Ensemble's Copland-esque serial moments, Celtic, and much more. It's panoramic, theatrical, and gloriously excessive. But Russell keeps his focus on Rose of Roscrae; it's soulful and moving for its reach; it doesn't need the libretto to be enjoyed, or even to blow your mind. Russell's view of history may be romantic but it is also gritty as hell, and enduring. This is his masterpiece.

Product Details

Release Date: 05/26/2015
Label: Imports
UPC: 0805520031301
catalogNumber: 5013957
Rank: 89726


Disc 1

  1. Overture
  2. This Is The Last Frontier
  3. Guilty/Johnny Behind-the-Deuce
  4. Sam Hall
  5. The Rose of Roscrae
  6. Hair Trigger Heart
  7. He'll Be Dead Before He Hits the Ground
  8. You Gotta Have a Dance/St James Hospital
  9. Ain't No More Cane On The Brazos
  10. The Last Running
  11. Home On The Range/America
  12. Just a Closer Walk With Thee
  13. Cowboy Voices Beyond The Campfire
  14. He Wasn't A Bad Kid, When He Was Sober
  15. The Sidekick's Last Testament
  16. Johnny's Campfire Soliloquy #1
  17. The Unfortunate Rake/The Streets of Laredo
  18. The Hands of Damien
  19. This Is The Last Frontier/Campfire Soliloquy #2
  20. Carrickfergus/The Water Is Wide
  21. The Fairground Pugilist
  22. Campfire Soliloquy #3
  23. Campfire Ghosts/Cowboy Voices
  24. Crazy Horse/Custer's Luck
  25. Johnny Behind-the-Deuce #2?Molokai
  26. She Talks To God
  27. Rock of Ages/Gunpowder Sunset Overture

Disc 2

  1. The Water Is Wide/Overture
  2. I Talk To God
  3. The Bear
  4. The Railroad Boy
  5. Resurrection Mountain
  6. When The Wolves No Longer Sing
  7. Just A Closer Walk With Thee/The Gospel of John, Chapter 4
  8. Jesus Met The Woman At The Well
  9. Damien (A Crust of Bread, A Slice of Fish, A Cup of Water)
  10. Guadalupe/Valentine de la Sierra
  11. Poor Mother Mexico
  12. Gallo del Cielo
  13. Soliloquy #1/Swiss Yodel Choir
  14. En Canadien Errant
  15. He'll Be Dead Before He Hits The Ground #2
  16. Doin' Hard Time In Texas
  17. When I Was A Cowboy aka Western Cowboy
  18. West Texas Montage
  19. Old Rattlebag Blues (Soliloquy #2)
  20. Midnight Wine
  21. Whiskey In His Blood
  22. Tularosa
  23. Irish Medley/The Stable
  24. Isn't It Grand?
  25. The Rose of Roscrae

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Tom Russell   Primary Artist,Guitar,Vocals
Jimmie Dale Gilmore   Guitar,Vocals
Eliza Gilkyson   Vocals
Joe Ely   Vocals
Augie Meyers   Vocals
David Olney   Vocals
Gurf Morlix   Bass,Guitar
Maura O'Connell   Vocals
Chris Poulson   Vocals
Thad Beckman   Guitar
Pat Manske   Drums,Vocals
Loren Johnson   Vocals
Lizzie Augenstine   Vocals
Nate Calvin   Vocals
Matthew Manucci   Vocals
Adam Wildanger   Vocals
Noah Loveman   Vocals
Eamonn Gottlieb   Vocals
Owen Gerber-Hatem   Vocals
Adam Franco   Vocals
Eli Chavez   Vocals
Porter Botterud   Vocals
Scott Sevin   Vocals
Bruce Raynes   Vocals
Darby Pak   Vocals
Johanna Stone   Vocals
Devon Traister   Vocals
Juliet Cassidy   Vocals
Claire Howard   Vocals
Diana Worby   Vocals
Brooke Ely   Vocals
Henry Krusoe   Vocals
Declan Hindeman   Vocals
Milena Byrnes-Flores   Vocals
Paige Arevalo   Vocals
Charlie Bohem   Vocals
Weston Tontas   Vocals
Alice Berman   Vocals
Vivi Le   Vocals
Sydney Lim   Vocals

Technical Credits

Ian & Sylvia   Arranger
Tom Russell   Producer,Engineer
Walt Whitman & the Soul Children   Composer
Chad Brown   Engineer
Doug Lancio   Engineer
Barry Walsh   Composer,Producer
Gretchen Peters   Composer
Traditional   Composer
Ledbetter   Composer
William Reynolds   Cover Design
Antoine Gérin-Lajoie   Composer
Mats Hålling   Arranger
Thomas George Russell   Composer

Customer Reviews