A Review of the Andrew McKnight CD
"Beyond Borders"


"Beyond Borders"
by Andrew McKnight

Copyright 2005
Falling Mountain Music
http://www.fallingmountain.com

This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 10/05
Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews
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Andrew McKnight would make a terrible politician (as if that is some great sin!). He is immensely introspective (strike one), highly contemplative (strike two) and far too interested in maintaining his balance on the highwire of life (strike three).

But lucky for us, he makes an excellent musician, and his latest release offering close to 60 minutes of his artistry, demonstrates just that.

McKnight focuses on the pastoral, the temporal and the benevolent here, with an emphasis on attempting to do right and correcting the inevitable lapses brought forth by human frailty. This is primarily a folk and bluegrass amalgamation, sprinkled with touches of spoken word and even some gospel. Call this McKnight's very own 'pilgrim trying to progress,' his search for the proverbial shining light.

He opens with "How High the Mountain," a bluegrass, spiritual-inflected cut, reflecting on life's guiding stars that we typically myopically overlook. "Hard Times in the Heartland" depicts how community can disappear despite the best of efforts. "Beyond Borders" embraces change as a constant in life, with a needed focus on the journey.

A verse from "Wishing' provides a stellar example of what's in the entire release:

"...Gravity, it holds me down
keeps my orbit safe and low enough
to ease the blow when I hit the ground
while angles glance, and prophets laugh
at this flightless rustic poet stumbling blindly down the path..."
The opening lines of "My Good Name," do likewise:
"Can't escape my footsteps, follow hot on my tail
I'm running to catch my breath, on this long and lonely trail
so many wounds to heal, old debts to repay
and broken pieces to lay to rest, but not much more to say..."
The eloquence of "The Poet's Great Romance" is backed by guitar, bass and percussion, but could easily stand alone as a poem. "Good Things Matter" contains a closing verse that is an anthem to live by.

An a cappella spiritual, "Rust on My Halo," asks why life hardens and inures us to the misery of others. "Flowers In My Yard" instructs to find the beauty surrounding us, even when we think it is absent.

Musing about family lineage in "When the Maples Turn," McKnight sings of his grandmother:
"...She's the queen of all the nurses, the patriot, the saint
lighting matches in dark places, bearing all without complaint
these are her chapters and her verses, from our history
the pages left to come, are mostly left to me..."
The rapturous "Alchemy" appropriately closes the release. A tribute to the forging of union, it utilizes beautiful metaphor.

We all need reminders, such as those McKnight presents here, to recognize and reject the superfluous and to realize that happiness and satisfaction are but a thought or action away. This particular delightful remembrance has the distinctive detail and added benefit of being set to music.

McKnight, on acoustic guitar, electric guitar and lead and harmony vocals, is backed byDanny Knicely on mandolin and bass; Jon Carroll on piano, organ and ensemble vocals; Alexander Mitchell on fiddle; Ralph Gordon on upright bass and cello; Dana Connor on ensemble and harmony vocals; N. Scott Robinson on cajon, foot maraca, bass drum, spring drum, Cameroon seed rattles, chime, hindewhu, pandeiro, bodhran, Native American flute, noah bells, scraped gourd, udu and shaker, Jerry Bresee on ensemble vocals; Terri Allard on harmony vocals and Michelle McKnight, Stephanie Thompson, Ian Reeder-Thompson, Britton Reeder-Thompson and Dustin Delage as the chain gang.

Track List:

All songs written by Andrew McKnight, except as noted.


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