Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Review: "Beyond The Grave" by Granny Sue

Seldom does excellence get captured on a CD. However, I recently had the extreme pleasure and delight to come across such a recording. It is titled, "Beyond The Grave: Ghost Stories and Ballads from the Mountains" by Susanna "Granny Sue" Holstein.

From start to finish, this CD held my attention and I sat on the edge of my seat waiting for what would next transpire. I wanted to coin this CD as "raw perfection", but there is nothing raw about it. It is simply perfection. The recording quality is excellent, Granny Sue's voice is excellent, and this is obviously a masterful collection of stories and ballads as told by the master.

The depth of this recording is outstanding. The gentle, soothing voice of Granny Sue immediately transported me across time and space to my granddad's house, when storytelling of this caliber was commonplace. Sadly, many of the old-timey storytellers of my youth are gone, and with them many of the stories they kept alive with each retelling. I am grateful to have found a recording that captures that mountain excellence that I had long thought was lost.

From the opening story of "Wizard Clipp" to a soulful acapella version of the Appalachian power ballad, "Pretty Polly", Granny Sue keeps listeners spellbound. As she works through "The Holly River Ghost" and on into "Sidna Davis", you become one with the stories and, I assure you, you will be hanging on every word. This wonderful CD closes with a version of "The Greenbrier Ghost", perhaps the most famous of all West Virginia ghost stories, that will draw you in so completely that you will begin to believe that Zona Shue is the girl next door.

The Appalachian Storytelling on this CD is second to none, the traditional mountain ballads are sublime. One can clearly tell after listening to this offering that Granny Sue has spent countless hours honing her craft and forging into existence a powerful recording which captures the true essence of Appalachia. I cannot say enough nice things about this masterpiece.

At the very reasonable price of $14.95 (shipping included), I urge everyone to take advantage of this exquisite work of art.

I highly recommend it to the readers of this blog, it is quite simply Appalachian Storytelling at its best.

Visit Granny Sue's Storytelling Store for ordering information, you'll be glad you did.



Granny Sue said...

Thank you for that excellent review, Matthew. I am flattered, and even more than that, so very glad you enjoyed the CD. Coming from a true mountain person like yourself, this is hig praise. I'm humbled.

Thanks again.

Shirley Stewart Burns, Ph.D. said...

It *is* really good! My only problem was at the end I wanted to hear more...but that's a *good* thing!

Jason said...

Shirley - she has other cds! You should get the others, too. I highly recommend it.

I've been a fan of GSue's since the moment I met her at the WV Storytelling Festival back in 2001. Has it been that long? Wow - anyway, definitely check out the other books and cds she has.