A Review of Susan Hamlin's CD
"Younger Than The Sun"

"Younger Than The Sun"
by Susan Hamlin

Floodwood Music FWM0902CD
P.O. Box 823
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 2/04
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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Susan Hamlin hails from Saratoga Springs, New York. Yes, the same community featuring the race track alluded to by Carly Simon in her barbed love song "You're So Vain."

Hamlin's latest release, "Younger Than The Sun," also has love as its primary motif and many of the songs conclude with similar less-than-inspirational outcomes. Just wondering: is Love Canal anywhere near Saratoga Springs?

Like grandma's soup, this offering contains almost a bit of everything: Irish jigs and reels, covers of Van Morrison, Bob Dylan and The Talking Heads, a song primarily in Gaelic, a Quaker mainstay, two Appalachian numbers, and a touch of Mark Twain and Robert Burns for seasoning.

The tunes "The Flagstone of Memories/Blind Nory Reel/Miss Monaghan's" open the release, a scintillating combination that will make your musical speakers take flight.

One of the more optimistic songs of amour, Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic," is cleverly melded with the instrumental "Out on the Ocean"

"Gort na Salean" is the lovely song, "Sally Gardens," to us non-Gaelic speakers. Hamlin combines touching English and Gaelic verses.

The listener can get jiggy (yes, bad, bad, bad) with "The Frost is All Over." Hamlin performs "Foreign Lander," one of the few optimistic love songs, a cappella and goes spoken word with Mark Twain's "The Fountain." The latter is set to an instrumental version of "Auld Lang Syne."

While on the surface a seemingly quirky inclusion, The Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime" is given a percussion, bagpipe and English/Gaelic rendition that is listener irresistable.

The Appalachian song "Oh the Wind and the Rain" features love, death and rebirth courtesy of a most resourceful fiddler. The melody here is remarkably similar to parts of Garnet's Rogers' wonderful song "Underpass."

Bob Dylan's wistful "Girl of the North Country" is deservedly unearthed from its slumber and closes the release.

Hamlin has a very enjoyable voice and, in fact, this listener wishes she had sung "How Can I Keep From Singing" rather than offer it as an instrumental. You won't find many new works here but, in these selections, Hamlin and friends do a very good job at breathing new life into both the familiar and the to-be-acquainted.

The fine cover photo of the CD also deserves mention as it captures the west of Ireland: a stone wall, a house razed by the elements, earthen mounds and lush vegetation.

Susan Hamlin on vocals and guitar is backed by Neil Anderson on Highland bagpipes and tinwhistle; Tom English on bodhran; Brian Hanlon on bouzouki and guitar; Zan McLeod on guitar; Brian Melick on percussion; Jakael Tristram on bass, electric guitar and keyboard; George Wilson on fiddle, feet and banjo; Monique Citro on cello; and The Apparitions on backing vocals.

Track List:

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