A Review of the Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer CD
by Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer
Signature Sounds Recordings/Tracy Grammer Music
Dave & Tracy
This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 11/08
Initially it's jarring to hear Dave Carter's voice
because it's on a 'new' song. Has there been some sort of a resurrection?
Has Carter written the counterpoint and now is acting out "When I Return"?
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Cue the "Mother, I Climbed" lines:
"...I rode to heaven never thinkin' I`d be back this way
now I`m standin' at your doorstep with my halo turnin' grey..."
Or maybe it's that DC has been hiding away somewhere in the hinterlands in a singlewide all this time, writing and rehearsing?
Will this be the mother of all comebacks?
But that discordancy soon evaporates into a sweet and soothing
refreshment, a mighty 'welcome back' regardless, as whatever
his current address, Carter ventures further into "Go Tell the Fox." It's the
opening cut on what Tracy Grammer describes as a hardware store holiday
Carter and Grammer were among those tapped to provide songs and tunes
as part of releases created at the request of the head of a hardware
firm for his employees. They contributed from 1999 to 2001.
Now these offerings are packaged together in a CD titled "American
Noel" -- four Carter creations and four re-worked traditionals, with
not a threadbare "Frosty The Snowman" nor a hoary "Jingle Bells" among
Direct from Tracy's former kitchen in Tigard, Oregon, comes that inital
song. "Go Tell the Fox" rekindles the magic of this pairing, what with
it's counter-singing, Tracy's violin and Carter's gentle voice and
A translated Provencal carol by Émile Blémont, "Bring a
torch, Jeannette, Isabella" follows. Grammer sings lead here,
best backed by Carter on banjo among other instruments. Yes, a banjo holiday
song of elegance.
A traditional German offering, "Lo, How A Rose E'er Blooming," is third
on the playlist, recorded in Tracy's Portland kitchen. Carter and banjo
begin, then it's Grammer's turn and soon a harmony appears.
Back to the Tigard kitchen with another recorded Carter original, "Footstep of
the Faithful" speaks of spiritual brother and sister in faithful
companionship calling out to something larger when necessary. Carter is
the primary singer.
"The Ditching Carol" symbolizes the dichotomy between the well off and
the poor with a gorgeous dose of Grammer opening the cut on violin and her in
the fore of the singing.
"Giddyup Said Santa Claus" is playful fun again from the Tigard
kitchen. Reminiscent in rhythm to "Texas Underground" and containing
Carter-ian usage of the words "loster' and "winder," the last verse
closes with: "...santa's on his night run, I'm ridin shotgun, looks like another good year..." Carter leads off this one despite that song's rifle reference of his positioning.
"Coventry Carol" contains a mention of Herod and seemingly references
to baby Jesus. Grammer and Carter trade solo verses plus
"Amercan Noel" is a cut that could easily home itself among the
playlists alongside any of the contemporary holiday songs that pervade
the atmosphere come December...er November...no, make that October. The
opening line immediately paints an intriguing portrait, generating a
desire to know more: "three wise men ridin' hard through the cold..." which could be Cormac McCarthy-penned instead of Dave Carter. In the last verse, there's a line "...and an old black dog looks on with the rest..."
Carter delivers the word 'dog' with such a charm it's as if this has
special meaning to him. Do note the frosting on this treat is Grammer
playing her not-often-heard mandolin.
This release is an obvious 'get' for Carter and Grammer music
archivists -- those who wish to have and hear everything the pair ever
recorded. Fans of the pair will also find this an enjoyable release and
quite the needed break from what typically comprises the aural
onslaught about now. It's that time of the year -- do your friends, relatives and
neighbors quite the favor and broaden their holiday music horizon.
- Go Tell the Fox (2:35) Dave Carter
- Bring A Torch, Jeannette Isabella (3:18) Emile Blemont
- Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming (3:07) Traditional
- Footsteps of the Faithful (4:30) Dave Carter
- The Ditchling Carol (3:10) Traditional
- Giddyup Said Santa Claus (5:49) Dave Carter
- Coventry Carol (2:05) words by Robert Croo/tune traditional
- American Noel (3:27) Dave Carter
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