Among instruments, the banjo is one of the few considered truly an American original. Roscoe Holcomb’s voice could be considered another. A just-released collection, “An Untamed Sense of Control,” shows just how original he was.
Holcomb’s taut banjo playing and piercing vocals encapsulate the best of the tradition, but go beyond it to form a distinctive sound all his own. With only a few other recordings of Holcomb available on CD (check out 1998’s “High Lonesome Sound”), these 26 cuts chosen from the Smithsonian Folkways collection are an important contribution to the mountain folk style that has all but disappeared from the Appalachian region, an area as famous for mountain folk music as the Mississippi Delta is for blues.