This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 1/99
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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Take three of the most creative performers on the folk circuit. Add twelve covers of these artists' favorite songs. Mix in inventive arrangements and vocal harmonies, and you have "Cry Cry Cry," aka Dar Williams, Richard Shindell and Lucy Kaplansky on parade.
What's intriguing about this release is that while most of the compositions were not originally written with harmonizing in mind, this trio pulls it off effectively.
The best cut is Robert Earl Keen's "Shades of Gray." A ballad with a slap-in-the-face twist buried in the very last line, Shindell's interpretation augurs evil is in the midst but Keen's clever writing keeps the listener waiting, waiting, and waiting. The hammer descends just as the song finishes. Shindell's emotive voice provides a more striking presentation than Keen's original.
However, Shindell's somewhat indignant and resignation-tinged version of "Cold Missouri Waters," while more emotional, doesn't quite equal James Keelaghan's. The harmonies don't work particularly well, especially at the end, and the utilization of electric guitar detracts from the overall sound. Keelaghan's starker rendition offers cleaner instrumentation, a wistful ending and a more midwestern sound.
Williams' style on Shindell's "Ballad of Mary Magdalen" is subdued, a worldweary offering matching expectations of how the central figure in this song would express her feelings. Kaplansky provides backup vocals here as she did, interesting enough, on Shindell's original on his "Blue Divide" release.
Kaplansky's "Speaking With The Angel" works extremely well. This Ron Sexsmith tune, inspired by the birth of his son, quietly draws in the listener, offering an intimate, primal wish. Kaplansky also provides an excellent rendition of Julie Miller's prayerful "By Way of Sorrow," backed by Larry Campbell on fiddle and Williams and Shindell on vocals.
Williams and Kaplansky share lead vocals on Buddy Mondlock's heart-rending "The Kid" and Nerissa Nields' poetic and haunting "I Know What Kind of Love This Is." Both of these are bewitching versions closely capturing the emotion and power of the exquisite originals.
Cliff Eberhardt's dark and sorrowful "Memphis" offers Shindell's lead vocals, backed by Kaplansky and Williams. This confessional-like tune about the disintegration of a relationship has an understated hold that clutches at the listener.
Overall, most of these are compelling "covers" and rightly deserve to see the light of day again. Consider it a treat that they are presented here with such craftsmanship. At least now with these offerings, the listener no longer has to wonder, "How would Dar/Richard/Lucy present such-and-such?".
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