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Leaving Fort Knox

Leaving_Ft_Knox

“Quite simply, this is the best Lui Collins recording, ever.”
“Her gorgeously poetic lyrics are wrapped around a solid bed of traditional- and old-timey-influenced music, which is at once simple and perfect for conveying the mood and subtleties of her words.”—Dirty Linen, October-November 2000

Read Michael Devlin’s review of Leaving Fort Knox in Music Matters Review.

Produced by Dana Robinson

Recorded by Greg Steele, Derek Studios, Dalton, MA
Pete Sutherland’s fiddle tracks recorded by Peter Engisch, Ad Astra Recording, Williston, VT

Mixed by Greg Steele and Dana Robinson

Mastered by Greg Steele

Photos of Lui and All Star hightops by Susan Wilson
Photos of Fort Knox, Bucksport, Maine and the Dead Mall, Northampton, Massachusetts by Dana Robinson

Design by Lehndorff Design

Lui: vocals, guitar, banjo
Dana Robinson: harmony vocals, mandolin, guitar, banjo

Guest Musicians:
Pete Sutherland: fiddle
Johnny Cunningham: fiddle
Gideon Freudmann: cello
Rose Sinclair: accordion
Andrew Kinsey: acoustic bass
Jenny Hersch: acoustic bass
Doug Plavin: drums & percussion

Deep gratitude to Dana for putting so much of himself into the production, while keeping absolutely true to my own vision of the songs. Most of these arrangements were grown organically within the hours of music we’ve shared both on and off stage – clearly a most satisfying way to produce an album. Thanks to all the guest musicians, to Greg, and to Peter and Kathy.

Big thanks to all of you throughout the country who have… made the road my home away from home. To all of you who’ve come out to hear me play and taken my CDs home to listen to and share with your friends. You make this life that I’ve chosen – or perhaps that has chosen me – not only possible but a delight. Blessings to you all.

Dedicated to Sylva, Tim and Magdalen, with all my heart.

Links below go to the lyrics for each song. Also all the lyrics are linked in a list here.

Things to Do
Lui Collins ©1998 Molly Gamblin Music/BMI
Lui – vocals, guitar
Dana – harmony vocals, mandolin
Rose – accordion
Jenny – acoustic bass
Doug – drums
Loose the Ties
Dana Robinson ©1998 Threshold Music/BMI
Lui – vocals, guitar
Dana – harmony vocals, mandolin
Pete – fiddle
Andrew – acoustic bass
Doug – drums
Saudade
Lui Collins ©1997 Molly Gamblin Music/BMI
Lui – vocals, guitar
Dana – guitar
Johnny – fiddle
Jenny – acoustic bass
Doug – percussion
Rarest Rose
Lui Collins ©1997 Molly Gamblin Music/BMI
Lui – vocals, guitar
Dana – mandolin
Gideon – cello
Leaving Fort Knox
Lui Collins ©1997 Molly Gamblin Music/BMI
Lui – vocals, guitar
Dana – mandolin
Rose – accordion
Jenny – acoustic bass
Doug – drums, percussion
Spark/Wings
Lui Collins ©1999 Molly Gamblin Music/BMI
Lui – vocals, banjo
Dana – guitar, mandolin
Pete – fiddle
The Dark Silkie
Lui Collins ©1997 Molly Gamblin Music/BMI
Lui – vocals, guitar
Johnny – fiddle
Gideon – cello
Green Light
Lui Collins ©1998 Molly Gamblin Music/BMI
Lui – vocals, guitar
Dana – harmony vocals, banjo
Pete – fiddle
Andrew – acoustic bass
Song of the Waters
Lui Collins ©1997 Molly Gamblin Music/BMI
Lui – vocals, guitar
Dana – banjo
Pete – fiddle
Andrew – acoustic bass
Mystery Play
Lui Collins ©1997 Molly Gamblin Music/BMI
Lui – vocals, guitar
Won’t Miss You Darlin’
Lui Collins ©1998 Molly Gamblin Music/BMI
Lui – vocals, guitar
Dana – vocals, mandolin
Swimming to the Other Side
Pat Humphries ©1992 Moving Forward Music/BMI
Lui – vocals, guitar
Dana – harmony vocals, mandolin
Andrew – acoustic bass


Music Matters Review – October 2001

Lui Collins
Leaving Fort Knox
2000, Molly Gamblin Music

I have been a fan of Lui Collins for a while, so it is hard to be completely objective, but as I try to listen to this CD with fresh ears several things jump right out at me. The first is how at home she is with her voice. It is strong and pure, yet distinctively her own and never forced. With it, she makes agile melodic twists and antique turns of phrase seem as natural as conversation. Another is the wonderful less-is-more production of this album. To be sure, there are fiddle, banjo, mandolin, acoustic bass, and drums (on just a couple of the songs), but it’s a tasteful mix in which you can hear every note.

The songs are of the highest quality in both melody and lyric, but it is here that my attempt to fake objectivity completely breaks down. I am familiar with six of the songs. They are on two of the finest records I have ever heard, Paired Down and Paired Down Volume 2. These albums were the result of Collins’ collaboration with Dana Robinson, just the two of them and their instruments, recorded live in studio. When I interviewed Collins and Robinson in the past they indicated that they would soon be pursuing solo careers. I thought to myself, “Fine, as long as you include each other in everything you do!” They are off to a fine start apart with this album—Robinson’s made-for-Lui harmony singing and sensitive instrumentals enhance most of the songs and he also produced the record. (Robinson’s own triumphant solo release, The Trade, is similarly enhanced by Collins’ presence.) Not only do Collins and Robinson sound good together, but they share a common vision about producing a distinctive music that draws from a broad range of mostly American folk music.

The CD starts with the contrarily bright-sounding “Things to Do,” an ode to the personal organizer ruled lives too many of us seem to lead. “Me? Compulsive? Gimme a break,/ I have to work this way.” Two songs later we have the yearning “Saudade,” sung in Portuguese and English to a Brazilian melody. This is followed by “Rarest Rose,” a triumphant song of reaching beyond one’s own walls, in imagery that could have sprung from an English garden hundreds of years ago. “Leaving Fort Knox” again covers the theme of personal escape, but this time in terms of the early days of the American fort. “Song of the Waters” is about divorce and leaving children behind, again in imagery and language that would not be out of place many years in our cultural past. Songs with modern references such as “Mystery Play” do not seem out of place, but rather are the logical update of the musical traditions.

Dana Robinson is not the only extraordinary musician Collins has attracted to her fine work. Peter Sutherland and Johnny Cunningham are superb on fiddle. Jenny Hersch and Andrew Kinney alternate on acoustic bass and Gideon Freudmann guests on cello. Rose Sinclair provides accordion and Doug Plavin adds just the right touch of drums and percussion. Collins herself is not the least among these fine players, as her guitar picking is slidey and supple.

There are many sophisticated singer-songwriters plying their trade and there is a strong community of people who are keeping old songs alive. Yet, there are relatively few artists who are bringing a traditional sensibility to modern songwriting, and in the process creating new traditional music. Lui Collins is among the barefoot royalty of this group, even when she wears her All Star hightops!

– Michael Devlin

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