by A.J. Duric
With her husband, Belgian guitarist Michel Delory, Anna Domino leaves her solo artist days behind and embarks on a journey of rediscovery and reinterpretation of classic folk ballads on Songs From My Funeral. These are classic songs: "Tom Dooley," "Black Girl," "Rising Sun" and "This Train I Ride."
This, Snakefarm’s debut, is an admiring testament to songs that have remained so buried in the fabric of our culture that many have been all but forgotten. Songs such as the lullaby "Pretty Horse," once softly sung by a slave to her master’s child and the 16th century British Street ballad "Laredo," lamenting the hard life, are reinvigorated here. The melodies will tug at your mental catalogue of music, but the beats, the guitar effects and the arrangements will make facile recollection difficult. Snakefarm has lent a technology-driven, modern essence that breathes new life into the phantom cowboys of our past, making the songs fit right in there with Everything But the Girl, Lamb or Sinead O’Conner.
Minimalist beatnik grooves, sparing use of synthesizers, sequenced beats and rearrangement of structure or even lyrics not only lend a fresh feel to this traditional material, but applying premillennial technology to the tunes of yore differentiates Snakefarm from the rest of the trendy audio-digital musos — notoriously Bowie and Madonna in their last releases. The "modernization" of old folk songs is only a part of the Snakefarm story — Domino and Delory have also taken liberties in fleshing out the folklore legend behind each piece that seems to more closely link the instrumentation to the spirit of the legend. Let’s just say that the Animals’ well-known version of "Rising Sun" pales in comparison.