This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 1/04
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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So's Your Mom. Sounds like an epithet rivals fling at each other. In this case, however, it is the name of a band whose members dip toes into many genres. Celtic is certainly front and center musically, rubbing shoulders with folk, country and some Appalachia influence. The singing moves from a cappella to strong Irish accents, and even some Southern drawl.
A plethora of songwriters are covered, including Ralph McTell, Jean Ritchie, Andy M. Stewart, Jessie Winchester, Dave Swarbrick and Richard Thompson.
With a 20-year-plus performance history, So?s Your Mom has been around the block and elsewhere a few times. In this, their latest release, 18 selections are offered.
The aforementioned McTell's "Hiring Fair" is masterfully sung by Brian Donnelly as is Jean Ritchie's "The L and N Don't Stop Here Anymore." The band's instrumental backing on Ritchie's song actually creates the aural effect of a train heading down the tracks. The touching "The Reason I Left Mullingar" and sentimental "Night Ferry" are worthwhile renditions.
In good humor, the liner notes for Swarbrick' and Thompson's "Walk Awhile" state: "I have no idea what this song means." The well-worn "Carrickfergus," again sung by Donnelly, is re-christened and given new life by Vince Brennan's work on mandolin.
"Good Friday," about the political/religious separation of the Irish nation and Northern Ireland, has an insistent, driving rhythm. Not being familiar with Richard Thompson's "Shady Lies," the version here is best described as countrified. The Thompson songbook is again used in "1952 Vincent Black Lightning." Utilizing the full band, including drums and mandolin, Donnelly again does an excellent job on vocals. While listening to this version, this reviewer got to wondering how Johnny Cash would have sounded on this song. Two instrumentals, "Staten Island" and "St. Anne's Reel," are infectiously toe-tapping.
So why should anyone be interested in the music of this band? First and foremost is Brian Donnelly's vocals. He plants the listener in the tierra firma of each song's geographical setting. The other bandmates also do their instrumental parts quite well. Plus, the tasteful choice of material and the number of selections, round out the trifecta.
So's Your Mom consists of Jack Bartley on vocals, guitar, banjo and bass; Brian Donnelly on vocals and tin whistle; Susan Bartley on viola; Vince Brennan on mandolin, dumbek and vocals; Wendy Fuhr on violin and vocals; drummer and percussionist Cheryl Prashker.
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