This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 2/02
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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A singer/songwriter's first creation is generally littered with a cover or two, a couple of cuts to be rued in later years and, hopefully, a number of quality songs. Alton Rex has done it his way, with an unusual initial offering. All the selections are not only self-penned but, as he edges towards filler territory with his ninth and tenth songs, he displays the most powerful cuts on this release.
"Fallen" and "How Many Children," these two cuts, deal with life and loss. Rex, mining his military family background, blends parts of his personal history with eras of this country and other countries' past and present.
In "Fallen," he opens with:
"Some falling is velvetHe concludes with a lyrical last will and testament:
like the first coat of snow
Some falling is brutal
and will never let go..."
"...In the moment of dying"How Many Children" portrays the insanity of war from a variety of angles. Rex sings:
I will even be blessed
With the secret of knowing
my own happiness
I hope I can hold it
right to the last breath
Oh fallen, oh fallen, oh fallen to death
Bring not flowers to me,
to my grave when I die
Give not to my memory
the days of your lives
We can never be more
than we were on this earth
Oh fallen, oh fallen, oh fallen at birth"
"...And how many childrenTossing a nod to Mickey Newberry, Rex captures the loss of a time and place with "Trains Don't Run." "Whirlaway" is a sweet ode to love and its inhabitants. The choices we make and the resulting outcomes dominate "Unbroken Man."
have struggled to bear
The smell of cordite
the shots in the air...
...How many families
have stood at the wall
And searched for the names
who answered the call
How many eyes
have stared down that stone
with hearts ripped right to the bone
loved and yet still alone..."
With "Holdin' On & Letting Go," the title itself presents an interesting conundrum on the multiple natures of love. Is holding on a desperate clutching or a tighter nurturance? Is letting go simply giving up or the freedom of surrender?
Rex brings his words to life with a comfortable, clear and enjoyable voice. You'll enjoy what he has to say and how he delivers it. The dobro and pedal steel backing brings a countryish sound to some of the cuts but this release maintains a folk feel and sound.
Rex on vocals and guitar, is backed by Lloyd Maynes on dobro and pedal steel; Steven Doster on lead guitar; Luis Guerra on upright bass; Micheal Hale on traps; Redd Volkaert on telecaster; Rich Brotherton on mandolin; Fletcher Clark on bass; Chris Beirne on dobro; Andrew McKee on recorder and pennywhistle; Hadi Jawad on tablas and Sara Hickman, Pauline Reese, Bo Reynolds and Lee Duffy on harmony vocals.
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