Sky and Earth Music ISG5000
P.O. Box 521533
Salt Lake City, UT 84152
P.O. Box 9974
Ashville, NC 28815
This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 5/00
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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Anke Summerhill has the kind of eminently pleasing voice that makes you want to listen to her. Smooth, flexible and easy on the ears, her vocals forcefully command attention one moment and then project dramatic emotion the next. She uses this talent to good effect throughout the selections on this release, a collection of songs focusing on the spectrum of human relationships and the simple wisdom offered by the diverse elements within nature.
Elevated by the power and clarity of its writing, "Stillness of the Night" depicts the ending of a love affair. Summerhill sings:
"...If there was one thing that I could've said to you
What would it take to change your mind
But I saw nothing of the anger in your soul
That bore the stillness of the night
Now we won't get those second chances
Like the leaves the will return again in spring
A lifetime lived out in a moment
And a moment that changes everything..."
The mandola-backed "Walnut Tree" heads in the other direction--the deepening of a coupling. Weaving elements of nature throughout the song, Summerhill sings:
"...Well there is new grass in the hollow
Where we used to spend our time
Picking berries by the stream's side
In the afternoon sunshine
Where the robins sing their sweet song
The one that they have always known..."
She closes with:
"...And our walnut tree is growing
It's growing tall for all to see
And the roots, they run deep here
It's found a home and so have we"
"Stars at Noon" is a tribute to the refuge available in the solitude of nature. Summerhill sings:
"...Quiet beauty surrounds you
So does the wind the whole year, too
Your red rock canyons are a shelter
From many storms I've been through...
Tiny flowers in the springtime
Where cold water swirls around late frost
This canyon serves as a reminder
Of so much wilderness that's lost
Canyons so deep
You can see the stars at noon
It's a paradise I'm thinking of
Dreaming comes easy
As I'm held within these walls
And the river gently sings her lullaby..."
The bluesey-sounding "Rainbow Blues" swings the pendulum back to heartbreak. Aided by the sorrowful-sounding fiddle backing of Kate MacLeod, Summerhill sings:
"I asked for a rainbow
But you left me these blues
No colors in between
Since you broke the news...
And when I see rainbows I still think of you
But through all these colors I only see blue..."
"The Thread" is the best cut on this release. The mood supremely enhanced by Michael VanDam on cello, Summerhill, at her most delicate, captures the essence of the many phases and elements of relationships. She sings:
"I guard my secrets carefully
In hopes that you won't find
The things I cannot share with you
The dreams held in my mind
But I could never tell you
Just what you mean to me
The thread that's spun between us
Could break too easily...
Summerhill finishes with:
"...So when I say I love you
Well, don't assume I'm insincere
For what I feel inside me now
Has been that way for years
As I recall the moments
That brought me to this place
I see the thread between us
Held in a state of grace
I guard my secrets carefully"
Yet another of those unsung professionals quietly doing solid work, Summerhill provides a generous helping of musical enjoyment with this release. The majority of songs are a cut above the norm, the instrumentation is subtle but enhancing and her aforementioned voice is akin to putting on a relaxing, comfortable shirt.
Summerhill on vocals and guitar is backed by Carla Eskelsen on harmony vocals and guitar; David LaMotte on harmony vocals; Matt Larson on acoustic bass; Matt Flinner on mandolin, mandola and tenor guitar; David Grier on guitar; Kate MacLeod on fiddle, congas and dumbek; Michael VanDam on cello; Christopher Carlson on fiddle; Ray Smith on alto flute; George Grant on bodhran and tabla and Barry Carter on congas, brushes and floortom.
All songs written by Anke Summerhill.
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