Taylor Park Music - TPMD0401
P.O. Box 12381
North Kansas City, Missouri 64116
ph: (816) 455-5524
fax: (816) 842-0025
This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 5/00
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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Connie Dover has always possessed an exquisite voice as anyone who has heard her can attest. What sets her apart from other angelic voices in the folk and celtic music genre are the moments of stunning beauty that suddenly appear within her songs, when time literally stops and heads turn. "Wondrous Love," "Brother Green," "My Dearest Dear" and "I Am Going To The West" contain but a few of these moments on this release.
Dover also possesses the ability to imbue authentic emotion into her songs as her music is not just a series of impressive vocal exercises. She sets out to affect listeners, carefully choosing material and backing, in combination with her vocals. Her rendition of "The Water Is Wide" is such an example. The delicate work of Phil Cunningham on piano and Jerry Douglas on Weissenborn guitar dramatically increase the power and effect of this often-presented tune, combining with Dover's vocals to make it seem as if new.
What Dover has done here is present the melding of music carried over to this country by emigrants from the celtic lands, with the sense and sentiment of early American West. Assuredly presenting Scottish and Irish Gaelic cuts, impressively interpreting hymns, offering variations of traditional tunes, nothing hits a false note here.
Opening with "The Blessing," the forced emigration of the Scottish Highlanders is depicted in Scots Gaelic. Dover's singing beautifully but sorrowfully captures the pain of such family and community uprootings.
With words and music by Dover, "I Am Going To The West" is another tale of immigration. Back by Cunningham on piano, Johnny Cunningham on fiddle, Jerry O'Sullivan on uilleann pipes and Zan McLeod on guitar, she sings:
"...I will journey to the place
That was shaped by heaven's hand
I will build for me a bower
Where angels' footprints mark the land
Where castle rocks in towers high
Kneel to valleys wide and green
All my thoughts are turned to you
My waking hope, my sleeping dream
I am going to the West..."
Dover shares vocals with Skip Gorman on "The Streets Of Laredo." She sings the first half of the lyrics, which she wrote, and Gorman completes the tune with the traditional lyrics.
An adaptation of an American shape note hymn, the enchanting "Wondrous Love" seems almost as if created with Dover in mind. This devotional opens with:
"What wondrous love is this, oh my soul, oh my soul
What wondrous love is this, oh my soul
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of Bliss
To send such perfect peace to my soul, to my soul
To send such perfect peace to my soul..."
"...When we're from sorrow free, we'll sing on, we'll sing on
When we're from sorrow free, we'll sing on
When we're from sorrow free, we'll rise and joyful be
And through eternity we'll sing on, we'll sing on
And through eternity, we'll sing on"
The rhythmic and bouncy "Winter's Night," with John Hartford on banjo and Skip Gorman on fiddle is a unrequited love cut, this time with the woman in question leaving her would-be suitor in the lurch. "My Dearest Dear" continues on in this vein:
"My dearest dear, the time is near when I and you must part
And no one knows the inner grief of my poor aching heart
Or what I suffer for your sake, for the one I love so dear
I wish that I could go with you or you could tarry here...
And when you're on some distant shore think on your absent friend
And when the wind blows high and clear, a line or two pray send
And when the wind blows high and clear, pray send it, love, to me
That I may know by your hand-write how times have gone with Thee..."
The tearful "Brother Green" is an American Civil War song. With Irish fighting on both sides in the conflict, Dover, backed by Jerry Douglas on dobro, sings:
"...Oh, Brother Green please come to me
For I am shot and bleeding
Dear brother, stay, and put me away
And write my love a letter
Tell her I know she's prayed for me
And now her prayers are answered
That I might be prepared to die
If I should fall in battle...
I have one brother in this wide world
He's fighting for the Union
But oh, dear love, I've lost my life
And I shall die a Southern..."
The special attention given to the liner notes deserve mention. Each song title and accompanying lyrics are presented in a different font, along with a full-length explanation of the background for each tune. Nothing is given short shrift on this release.
Dover on vocals is backed by Russ Barenburg on guitar; Bob Burns on upright bass and bowed bass; John Catchings on cello; Phil Cunningham on piano, accordion, keyboard, penny whistles and guitar; Jerry Douglas on dobro and weissenborn guitar; Craig Duncan on hammered dulcimer; Skip Gorman on vocals, guitar and fiddle; John Hartford on banjo; Roger Landes on bouzouki and guitar; Paddy League on percussion; Zan McLeod on guitar; Jerry O'Sullivan on uilleann pipes; Dave Pomeroy on fretless bass; and Arthur Shortbull on eagle bone whistle.
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