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
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
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
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 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.
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