Public Domain: Songs From the Wild Land

  • Record Label: Hightone
  • Release Date: Aug 15, 2000

Universal acclaim - based on 11 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 11
  2. Negative: 0 out of 11
  1. Mojo
    Often he sings with a richness, depth and conviction worthy of Johnny Cash. [Jan 2001, p.98]
  2. Dave Alvin brings an authentic voice and extraordinary understanding to his chosen tracks.... This is the work of a scholar as well as a master craftsman.
  3. As always, Alvin's guitar work is wonderfully supple and emotive, and stands out as the centerpiece of his arrangements. But, even more gratifying, a decade after leaving the Blasters, in which his brother Phil handled the vocal duties, Alvin has finally found his voice as a singer.
  4. 80
    His music remains lively and contemporary even when he reworks traditional songs old enough to have their copyrights lapse into the public domain.
  5. Alvin's approach acknowledges the haunting quality that traipsing through history can evince; Public Domain is like a photo album of ghosts, where the images are recognizable but occupying some other plane.
  6. The resonant and smooth singing takes some getting used to if you're familiar with earlier, craggier, quirkier recordings, but by the gallant train-wreck tragedy of "Engine 143", I found myself singing along.
  7. 80
    Alvin injects these historic tunes with his own modern flavoring that keeps them fresh in light of their aging repose.
  8. He takes on the American songbook to stirring effect-often without relying on traditional arrangements.
  9. The handsomely produced Public Domain is so rich in history that it could do brisk business in the Smithsonian gift shop. Rather than just revisit folk gems like "Walk Right In," "Delia" and "Railroad Bill," Alvin completely reinvents them.
  10. His loving treatment of these 16 tunes (counting one hidden track) is testament to both the rich legacy of American music and Alvin's own reverence for things past.
  11. It's not that these songs are all obvious or overdone--this nonfolkie had never heard a few of them. It's that they're so soft they squish even when Alvin tries to rev one past you, which usually he doesn't.

Awards & Rankings

User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 4 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. jerryb
    Feb 28, 2007
    great concept for a folk disc. the beauty of this disc is how it plays at live shows. Dave did a lot of research for this and has added his great concept for a folk disc. the beauty of this disc is how it plays at live shows. Dave did a lot of research for this and has added his own flavor. a big thumbs up here Full Review »
  2. Hein
    Apr 30, 2006
    Good record and a great live preformance