Red Cross was the first posthumous release after John Fahey passed away in 2001. I’d been fortunate to see him play live in Edinburgh only months earlier where he played for almost 2 hours offering just 3 extended songs. During the concert, Fahey told a story about a girl that he knew on a reservation. He described the scene were they met and mid-sentence started to play Juana from his album Womblife. He played the guitar for the next 30 minutes and it quickly became apparent the guitar was his voice – the story just continued. The guitar was giving form to his thoughts. So all the wildly imaginative sleeve notes and strategies around his countless albums, made even more sense in that moment.
Red Cross therefore was the first new music I’d heard him play since I’d seen him live and that guitar channelled story telling vibe is unmistakable. The odd quality of the opener Remember, seems to make the notes dance around each moment which oozes through the entire disc. Fahey swims through well-thumbed standards like Summertime and Motherless Child but each time, delights in highlighted new edges in old forms.
Much has been written of Fahey’s latter-day demons which colours the work he made in his last decade. Whilst this last few albums have little of the light of his earliest and most celebrated work, Red Cross highlights that he was never one to just go through the motions or compromise. Sombre in parts, stark and threaded with a unique beauty…
Find out more about Red Cross, Disciple of Christ Today here