In 1904, Elizabeth Cotten wrote her popular folk song, ‘Freight Train’, at just 11-years-old. Throughout her 90 years on Earth, she helped to mould contemporary American roots music and, thusly, is a pioneering face of modern folk and blues. With the incoming Americana Railroad release via Renew/BMG on 17 June, the song has been revitalized by the magnificent AJ Haynes of the Seratones. Her rendition maintains Cotten’s simple, reflective sensibilities and is a gorgeous tribute to the songwriter. Haynes also gives herself room to explore new production techniques with her cover, giving it an ethereal, spacey lick of paint with its echoing arrangement. All-in-all, it is a lovely, soulful rendition and a highlight of the forthcoming LP. It ends on a haunting note, with Haynes imbuing the cover with a full-bodied head voice on one final go-round of its iconic refrain.
Americana Railroad features a mix of new and traditional songs centered around the titular railroad. Besides AJ Haynes, the compilation also features Stephen McCarthy, Carla Olson, John Fogerty, Dom Flemons, Dave Alvin, Rocky Burnette, and a host of other well-regarded names.
Words by: Jonathan Frahm