Albert and Gage "Dakota Lullaby

Frank Gutch, Jr.
Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange

Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange
posted by Frank Gutch, Jr.   2009

Dakota Lullaby: Albert & Gage

A labor of love, that is what this is. Pure, unadulterated labor of love. Prairie and plains might have something to do with the music, but Dakota Lullaby is all about the love: Tom Peterson's love of the Dakotas as well as Christine Albert and Chris Gage's love of song. Remember the phrase "love conquers all?" Well, if it didn't, Dakota Lullaby wouldn't exist. Does the fact that it does give credence to the phrase? For those who would like to think so, here is the story, Cliff's Notes-style.

Thirty years ago, Tom Peterson, denizen of Pierre, South Dakota, wrote songs. Lots of them, in fact. Chris Gage, young and idealistic musician, began incorporating said songs into his act. Fast forward 30 years. (I said it was Cliff's Notes, didn't I?) Gage discovers a Peterson demo tape in his stash and Jack Kreitzer transfers Tom Peterson demos onto a CD, sending it to Albert and Gage. "It didn't take us long to realize that we had an entire album's worth of material that was perfect for Albert and Gage," Albert writes in the liner notes. A project is born.

Tom Peterson could not have requested a better conduit for his songs. Albert & Gage, obviously on the same page at all times, blend voices effortlessly, fluctuating between smooth country and western swing like they were born to it. Beneath those voices Gage placed a bang-up group of sidemen most musicians would kill for and handled production like the pro he has become. The resulting sound puts you at your ease and the music flows. A country edge here, a jazzy tinge there and all is right with the world. At no point is it more right than the end when Gage strikes a Jackson Browne pose on one of Peterson's best, Goodnight Blues, a show-ender if ever there was one. After the bridge, when Albert joins Gage on harmony, you know why Albert & Gage are Albert & Gage and not just Albert or Gage. For myself, the high point of the album.

The release of Dakota Lullaby does beg the question of what Peterson has been doing these past three decades. Few songwriters can just quit. Thirty years ago, Peterson was on track to become one of the top songwriters of the folk/pop/country persuasion. He has to have footlockers worth of material begging to be heard. Tubs full. Albert & Gage opened the door. Let us hope that others will work to keep it open.