Album Review of
It's A Dog Life

Written by Joe Ross
July 14, 2019 - 2:56pm EDT
Review Rating Star Review Rating Star Review Rating Star Review Rating Star

For 40 years, Si Kahn has been writing, performing and recording folk and bluegrass music. I first became familiar with the prolific artist and activist in the late 1980s and his releases on the Flying Fish label. All 13 songs on this album are originals, with ten previously unrecorded.  Kahn’s writing is clear, coherent and expressive. Songs like “Government on Horseback,” “It’s a Dog’s Life,” and “Rats in a Maze” are witty, sarcastic and insightful. His music encourages people to assemble, collaborate and make a difference.  Recorded in Germany, the project pairs Si Kahn with the Looping Brothers (a takeoff on the Louvin Brothers), a European band with a 23 year history that includes Ulli Sieker (mandolin, fiddle), Matthias Malcher (guitar, banjo) and Ralf Strottman (bass). Guest Nicke Widen plays Dobro on two songs. Of the 13 tracks, Ulli Sieker sings lead on ten, and “One Dollar Bill” may be his best, most evocative presentation. Si Kahn sings lead on three songs that he reprises from the past (“Government on Horseback,” Going Going Gone” and “Hard Times”). The band’s approach to bluegrass has strong, exuberant folk leanings with the messages taking precedent over blazing instrumentals and intense vocalizing.  Standout tracks for airplay are some of the more up-tempo offerings rather than slow ballads.  (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)