Rolling Stone - p.843.5 stars out of 5
-- "Wainwright's sprawling family add clever harmonies to songs about marriage, booze and rabble-rousing."
Record Collector (magazine) - p.995 stars out of 5
-- "Wainwright and his producer Dick Connette keep things flowing with arrangements that run from solo voice to string backing and, naturally, the banjo features prominently."
Charlie Poole (1892-1931) was a hard-living, plain-singing, banjo-picking raconteur, amateur baseball player, mill worker, boozer, and bootlegger whose name may not be as well known as, say, Jimmie Rodgers or the Carter Family, but who nonetheless helped define what country music later became. Loudon Wainwright built this album around both old songs associated with Poole and new ones that help move the Poole story forward for today's world. Poole was not primarily a songwriter; he took what he heard elsewhere and bent it to his will. But he had an inimitable populist style, a whole lot of attitude and charisma, and the kind of sly humor that a sly humorist like Wainwright certainly can embrace. Of the 30 tracks spread across these two discs, all but nine were found among Poole's own, relatively small catalog. Without attempting to replicate the acoustic string band sound of the '20s and early '30s, Wainwright gets to the heart of songs such as "I'm the Man Who Rode the Mule Around the World," "Moving Day" (with the Roches on background vocals), "The Letter That Never Came," and "Mother's Last Farewell Kiss," tunes that Poole waxed and which, in the hands of Wainwright, manage to open a window into the Depression-era life while remaining viable to contemporary ears. Loudon's new songs are intended not so much to conform to Poole's style (although they do that, too) as to embellish upon it.