American Pioneer Singers - Abraham Lincoln and the 1864 Election - Abe Cover

The American Pioneer Singers album entitled "Abraham Lincoln and the 1864 Election" is an interesting musical excursion into the history of the United States. This album is comprised of traditional folk songs that date back as far as the 19th century. While the history underlying the themes and characters at play within these tracks (with the first 6 tracks supporting George McClellan, and the latter 6 in support of Lincoln), it is my primary goal to examine the quality of this music when compared to other artists in this genre; as well as how this album impacts my ears. IE: How does it make me feel? Fortunately, on the whole, I really did find myself enjoying this album thoroughly for a number of reasons. Allow to now explore in more depth "Abraham Lincoln and the 1964 Election."


The production on this album is, quite frankly, perfect. I have an affection for folk music in general because of the production values that tend to be present, and The American Pioneer Singers treat us to an album filled with very natural tones and a warm, sometimes wet with reverb, atmosphere. Traditional folk music tends to force our minds to go back to a simpler time, and in many ways this translates well into modern musical productions many artists attempt to complicate, compress, and further muddle the dynamics in their tracks. The American Pioneer Singers do not fall into this trap, and are a welcome difference in sound when compared to most artists I stumble across on the radio these days. Aside from the overall production, the compositions are also valuable to examine. While many of these songs are dated back into the 19th century (around when the actual historical events were happening), there are no doubt some updates. I am not overly familiar with the originals, so my judgements are only of the actual material I can hear on this album. And my overall thoughts regarding the compositions are positive considering the source material, the value of the material during the times (the Zeitgeist in the political atmosphere during the 19th century is highly important to consider), and the translation into an accessible piece of media I can listen to and enjoy in the present.


"Abraham Lincoln and the 1964 Election" is not a complex album when it comes to the instruments present. However, given the context that this album is full force within the genre of traditional folk music, it provides the expected instrumental accompaniment. That is, almost exclusively acoustic instruments, the acoustic guitar being the most notable. If you are looking for "more" from your Americana and traditional folk music, the APS's will not impress. Still, the instruments that are present are played well and are entertaining. Occasional solo and lead sections paired with different playing styles like the rapid style tremelo picked guitar allow the simple guitar to become much more at times.

The major highlight of this album, though, comes in the vocal department. The voice(s) paired with the lyrical content (most of which was pre-written back in the 19th century as well) provides the highlight of these tracks. The lyrics provide interesting insight into the history of the USA and bring to life that time period during the Presidential election. Considering some of these tracks are simply political anthems of sorts, like "Republican Campaign Song" and "Abraham, Our Abraham," there is no doubt some level of cheese that comes with the content (both musical and lyrical). However, if Americana and national pride is your thing, you will likely find it enjoyable at best, and amusing at worst. The vocals themselves are great for the genre, though not perfect, but it is hard to fault the authentic feeling behind the vocals when compared with many modern pop songs that simply cover up the blemishes with Auto-Tune.

Overall Impression:

The American Pioneer Singer's album, "Abraham Lincoln and the 1864 Election," is a quality piece of music. I do not feel that it does a whole lot to move the genre forward, but it would appear that the goal of these musicians was to replicate the sounds of an earlier time. With this in mind, they do very well. It is a strange thing that an album of music can transport me back in time. So often I run into fantasy albums taking me to different worlds, like those in distant space or a few into Tolkien's Middle-Earth, but very infrequently do I simply go back in time to a notable point in my countries history.

In the end, I'd recommend this album easily to fans of Americana, traditional, and folk music. If you like hearing songs of old coming back to life in fresh and high quality recordings, and are particularly curious to explore this point in history, then you will enjoy this album. A few tracks that I enjoyed most include: "White Boys for McClellan" and "Little Mac."

APS's Ulalume 2013-08-14 4.0 0 5