Retired Episcopal priest Father Ron Clingenpeel and his merrymaking musical gang enjoyed recording his 2016 folk covers album This Land so much, they had to do it again. But unlike that self-produced effort, André Bohren was enlisted to helm this original affair that runs a relatively wide folk music gamut in a mere eight tracks. Paramount to the proceedings is “Peregrinatio,” a Latin word that aptly describes the Celtic theological concept of how life is a continuous journey. Clingenpeel sings the first verse a cappella, and then is joined by a resounding choir that sounds as if it were singing in a cavernous cathedral.
Clingenpeel’s journey offers a variety of sonic scenery, like a jump rope rhyme set to melody and a steady beat (“Alligator Purse”), a realistic portrayal of a cowboy (“Hard Living Man”) and a beautiful, tender love song (“So Close a Heart”). “Marie Laveau,” a far cry from the Bobby Bare novelty song of the same name, is relatively artistic with various background voices and Gina Forsyth’s ethereal fiddling.
But since this is a collection of songs related to journeying, Clingenpeel tackles the biggest humanitarian crisis of all on “Refugee,” where he cites the atrocities committed against those journeying for a better life. Of course, to some, the subject will be infuriating, but the message does make you wonder if there isn’t a middle ground somewhere in this golden land of opportunity.