"And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them." (Joshua 18:1)
It held a perhaps unsurpassed place of importance for the Israelites until the construction of Solomon’s Temple and elevation of Jerusalem as the capital of a united Israel some centuries later.
The Shiloh, which is our primary matter of interest here, is not the biblical city, but rather a namesake community in rural Overton County, Tennessee, situated in the Upper Cumberland region of the Appalachian Plateau near the Tennessee/Kentucky border. It isn’t a town, but a community made up of a church, two cemeteries, a smattering of houses, some farmland surrounded by forested hills, and a mostly gravel road that is too narrow in many stretches for two cars to pass each other. The West Fork of the Obey River tumbles through the area at a fairly leisurely pace, and Joseph’s father, who was born in the adjacent and slightly easier to access community of Allred, always called Shiloh Road “the River Road” since the road and the river often unfurl through the valley side by side.
The instrumental pieces for guitars and banjo on the album at hand mostly depict images and events, both real and imagined, that take place in Shiloh and the broader river valley it’s situated in.
“I won’t go into the details of the inspiration for each tune here,” Allred comments, “but I will say that Shiloh is a place where the distinction between past and present isn’t always clearly defined. It’s a kind of “mandorla," a place where the spheres of past and present, dead and living, immanent and transcendent, overlap. It’s also a place that has attracted some odd characters over the years, or just people who are weary and trying to find refuge.”
“Though I grew up in a small town about 25 miles away from Shiloh and have lived in Boston since 2016, my dad’s side of the family has been in the area for over 200 years, and that valley feels a lot like the place I’ll be buried when I die.”
With all that said, we present to you The Rambles and Rags of Shiloh.
Housed in a gatefold sleeve courtesy of the glorious folk art of Jonny Brokenbrow.
“Joseph Allred's recent outpouring of excellent releases has been an impressive enough feat on its own
considering how unique they all are in relation to one another and how focused each one is when taken as individual statements. "The Rambles & Rags of Shiloh" strikes such a deceptively comfortable balance between more familiar folk guitar approaches and Allred's own wholly distintive techniques that it'd be hard to believe it was the same person playing everything if you were able to ignore how seamlessly it all fits together.” – Rob Noyes
“If you don't know Allred already, you will soon." --Byron Coley,
“Each time I've seen Joseph Allred play a concert, I've choked up. Whether working in improvisation or composition, for harmonium, stringed instruments or voice, their music reveals a deep knowledge of diverse musical idioms secular and religious, with the sort of quiet force that comes from the acquisition of this knowledge, and their performances are striking and brave, simultaneously unadorned and rich as to suggest collaborations with realms beyond our own: like Basho or Rose, it's uncompromising; like sacred musics, stately; like the music of so many American masters, it plows ahead on its terms and gives and gives.” – Eli Winter
“…fierce, raw and deeply moving.” – Pop Matters