Darrow’s name might not be the most familiar to anyone but the most dedicated follower of country-rock, but his influence spreads far and wide. He cut his teeth with the bluegrass outfit The Dry City Seat Band with David Lindley; his later group Kaleidoscope counted Jimmy Page among its fans; he toured with the young Linda Ronstadt; and his session work included stints with Leonard Cohen and James Taylor.
Artist Proof, first released in 1972 on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s label Fantasy, shared much of its DNA with Gram Parsons’ records of the time: emotionally charged Americana laments delivered with a tenderness and fragility. The sorrowful Move On Down The Line waltzes round pedal steels and pianos, mopping away tears, while the upbeat Shawnee Moon finds him yearning for simple small town solitude.
The frailty of Darrow’s voice and its down-home twang imbues the songs with a traditional sensibility that occasionally recalls Hank Williams, most noticeably on the fiddle-fuelled Alligator Man and the mandolin-led Keep On Trying. He may have been too pure for widespread appeal at the time of the album’s original release, but an arguably more open and receptive 21st Century country fanbase should delight in this reissue.