Ballads, Stripmall is a deeply charismatic album. It locates itself resolutely in the injured drama of Northeast DC and invites us into that world. Its commitment to context is evidenced by the fact that the sounds of the back alley of the studio were recorded in simultaneously with the musical performances and woven through the songs… unedited… and in real time. The chirping of birds, the shouts of kids, hip-hop pulsing out of cars, sirens and laughter drift through the recording and document life in Northeast. These aren’t sound effects and they aren’t ironic. They are reminders to the artist and to the listener that our lives intersects with the lives of others and that art resides at this intersection… sometimes homeless and panhandling… sometimes selling newspapers and cold water… and sometimes just shooting the breeze with passers-by. This is folk music.