This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 4/01
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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Alan Whitney. Repeat this name seven times. Isn't that what memory experts advise to remember someone's name? And in this case, you do not want to forget this name. For Whitney's first release is a beguiling effort. The lyrics and music are enjoyable enough to stand on their own, but synergistically combine for an even greater whole. His vocals are another plus--an easy-to-listen-to, slightly twangy voice.
And if nothing else, how can anyone resist the opening lines of "Crucifixion
Waltz"? "Last night I found Jesus Christ washing my windshield,
with a crumpled up page of the Los Angeles Times..."
Whitney sings mostly of change, breaking out of pre-set molds, unlearning familiar behavior and becoming different. He also covers the flip side--falling back and retreating to the comfortable and the routine. For him, love is both a blessing and a curse. To experience its full joy takes the precarious steps of faith, trust and, most of all, vulnerability.
"The Dream" details two young boys, one black, one white, living on different sides of the river but growing up as friends. They eventually grow apart with age and then the white young man reads in the newspaper about the drug-related, violent murder of his former friend. Whitney concludes with:
"...Oh, I remember how you told me, 'Black is beautiful, black is clean'"Frankie Speed (Stealin' Cadillacs) is the story of a man who has found his calling. Whitney opens with:
and how you were beautiful when you said those words to me
But now, the river still divides us, and the promises lie broken
as I stand witness to the killing of the dream."
"My name is Frankie SpeedHe provides the tale with a nice twist:
and I am my own boss
It's a high risk occupation
to steer clear of the law
but I'm the best at what I do
yes, I'm right where I belong
I'm standing here, it's shinin' there
I'm in, I'm done, I'm gone..."
"...Gettin' caught's for criminalsThe aforementioned "Crucifixion Waltz" begins with a matter-of-fact lambasting of societal indifference to the poor and forsaken:
and jail time is for crooks
my work is clean professional
I'm strictly by the book
You gotta know who all the players are
but, if you think I'm lyin'
go ask the sheriff of Monroe County
how he likes the car he drives..."
"...Then I dreamed of the ones so lost in their colorWhitney's last verse offers a glimpse of redemption:
and stoned by the distance and the deaths of their brothers
It's like this small world is coughing to shake off the ravage
of the first breath of the backside of an overdose..."
Then I saw my lover's eyes so filled with forgiveness"You Don't Know What It's Like" and "Trigger Finger" detail the sometimes inexplicable frailties of relationships while "Sleeping With The Television On," "This Town" and "The Meantime" all deal with recycling family dynamics and an approach-avoidance reaction to breaking the bonds of the comfortable and escaping to the unknown.
there was no hesitation no papers to sign
Now I'm asking myself what was it I missed here
and why did I steal this when no one was looking?
Then Jesus Christ said, 'saving the world is a lost occupation
It's like witchcraft, barnstorming, or maybe even rock-and-roll
but, if you're waiting for someone to give you the signal
Son, if you hear the singer there must be a song..."
This is an exceptional effort that will hopefully reward, and be rewarded with, many listeners.
Whitney, on vocals, harmonica, acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin, bass, percussion and keyboards, is backed by Jonathan Stevens on drums and percussion; Al Hernandez on bass; Andrea Gross on oboe and Kelly Corbett, Kate Corbett and Saby Kulkarni on backup vocals.
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