Farmer’s Almanac, the latest release from Brother Dege, is appropriately titled. This is music that feels of the earth… this is working man’s music. Not a nine to five working man, but an up and out before the sun rises working man. Dege Legg is certainly not afraid to tackle the darker sides of humanity both lyrically and in the music crafted as part of his unique blend of roots music that he dubs “psyouthern.” As one might expect, Brother Dege delivers another emotionally powerful and charged recording that is filled with Legg’s beautiful and impassioned guitar playing.
Things get started with “Partial To The Bitters,” an instrumental passage that sets the tone for Farmer’s Almanac. It’s expansive and earthy yet mournful and introspective. Rising from the ashes is “Country Come to Town” with its driving beat and fine picking from Dege Legg. “The Early Morn” continues mining the lyrical theme developed on “Country Come to Town.” Both songs perfectly complement the instrumentation developed in “Partial to the Bitters” and Josh Leblanc adds some nice texture on flugelhorn as “The Early Morn” comes to an end.
In many respects, the centerpiece of this recording is “The Moon & the Scarecrow.” Clocking in at nearly eight minutes, it gives Dege plenty of time to deliver an epic tale that sonically would fit nicely on Led Zeppelin III.
“Laredo” paints a picture of a lone wanderer riding off into the sunset, unsure of what lies ahead. Legg sings, “The hippies chase the morning. They like to dream. But I can’t take no sides, because the evil talks to bad men just like the saints.” As with the rest of Farmer’s Almanac, you feel that he is singing from experience, not dreamed up abstractions. There is a real struggle in the protagonists of these songs.
“Partial To The Bitters, Pt. II” closes out the procession. This is the lone cowboy riding back into town weary and beaten down, just in time to get up and do it again. It’s ashes to ashes and dust to dust, from the Earth we come and to the Earth we return. What we do in the middle is contained in the Farmer’s Almanac.