A Review of the CD
"Tanglewood Tree"
by Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer

"Tanglewood Tree"
by Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer

Copyright 2000
Signature Sounds Recordings - SIG 1257
P.O. Box 106
Whately, MA 01093
ph: (800) 694-5354
http://signature-sounds.com and

Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer
http://daveandtracy.globalhosting.com/index.php and

This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 2/00
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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Picture this, if you will: Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer, at one of the Kerrville songwriter circle campfires, finishing up "Happytown," "The Mountain" or "Cat-Eyed Willie Claims His Lover." Silence prevails momentarily, then lingers just an uncomfortable interval longer. Finally, the other members of the circle stir, quietly packing up instruments and slowly ambling away from the rapidly vanishing assembly. Has it gotten too late? Nah, are you kidding, these are folksingers. Is everyone out of material? See answer number one. So what's with this behavior? Sheepishly but understandably, it is that nobody wants to step up and follow this duo, the thinking being "how in the world can I top that?" And who can blame them?

Carter's and Grammer's latest release, "Tanglewood Tree," continues supplying that intimate portal into the stimulating and eclectic visions of Dave Carter. Carter's delicate poetics flutter from metaphysical to melancholy to metaphorical. Grammer's charming vocals match her moving violin play. The end result is as thought-provoking and enjoyable a collection of songs as will be found this year.

Releasing under the Signature Sounds label has gotten them out of Grammer's kitchen (where their last CD, "When I Go," was recorded) and into an authentic music studio. The result is eleven cuts offering a myriad of textures and rhythms, with the effect being a fuller, more complex sound than their last release, although it should be noted "Farewell To Fiddlers Rim" was recorded in Grammer's venerable kitchen. In addition to their usual pleasing harmonies, Carter and Grammer trade lead vocals this time around, with Grammer doing the honors on four of the cuts.

The scintillating "Happytown" opens the release, with Carter at his most mystical but still taking a humble wink and nod at how we navigate this rambling road and its many pathways that we call life:

"Tanglewood Tree" is the epitome of Dave Carter's brilliance. Despite depictions ad nauseam of love--good, bad and all variations in-between--since time began, he is able to avoid derivativeness and take a fresh look at this most exhilarating, damning and puzzling of feelings. Assisted by Grammer on violin, he sings: Grammer steps to the fore with lead vocals on the percussion-driven "The Mountain." Continuing in the search for meaning and redemption vein and advocating simplicity over the grand and garish, she sings: She follows with the enigmatic "Crocodile Man," vocally reminiscent of Annie Gallup's spoken/sung phrasings: Carter turns ballad-like with "Cat-Eyed Willie Claims His Lover," a cut somewhat in the vein of celtic story lore. With violin flourishes and vocal assistance by Grammer, he sings: Bonnie slays Willie but after the fact. Carter continues: Matched superbly to her material, the unveiling of Tracy Grammer on lead vocals is a gratifying enhancement to this release. She deftly pulls in the listener on all of her cuts with the aplomb of a seasoned vocalist.

There may be equals but surely there is no one better at assembling words, phrases, thoughts and ideas than Dave Carter. When he reaches deep inside and pulls out these surreal and symbolic pearls from his unconscious, we are all in for an intoxicating treat.

With apologies to the unquestionable singing and instrumental talents of Tracy Grammer, I have a suggestion. Title the CD "Being Dave Carter"? Just how much would you be willing to pay for 15 minutes inside this guy's brain?

Carter on vocals, guitar, banjo, piano and Hammond organ and Grammer on vocals, violin, mandolin and acoustic guitar are backed by Richard Gates on electric bass; Lorne Entress on drums and percussion; Roger Williams on dobro; Bob Dick on upright bass; and Chris Turner on harmonica.

Track List:

All songs written by Dave Carter.

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