This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 2/99
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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It's unfortunate "folksinger" isn't one of the occupations presented as part of high school "Career Days". Then again, maybe it's a well thought-out attempt to keep impressionable youth away from a life of destitution and heartbreak. Dave Johnson took the plunge into this singer-songwriter pool in his fifties. However, he might have taken this vow of poverty, road maps, and a car littered with styrofoam containers much earlier in his life had such information been available.
Johnson's first release is a low key one--soft, sometimes sung, sometimes spoken compositions mostly focusing on relationships. From "Old Love Is Hard" about how it is much more difficult to sustain than create relationships, to "Nova Scotia Woman" detailing both the hardships of separation due to life on the road and the wistful dreaminess upon returning to reconnect, to "There's Gonna Come A Day," depicting a couple's incomplete connection, with one holding out and the other holding on, he smoothly traverses this terrain from many points on the spectrum.
Johnson also provides tongue-in-cheek humor with his digital stalking of Mary-Chapin Carpenter in "I Want To Marry Mary-Chapin Carpenter." He merrily sings "...I want to add another hyphen to her name..." and "...I may not be quite ready yet to order up a ring but how do you like the sound of Dave-Chapin?...". Mary's response has yet to be recorded.
His "The White Queen," is an vivid, image-laden tableau that could easily have emerged from the imagination of Bob Dylan, one of the performers paid tribute to by Johnson in the liner notes. The masterful lyrics make this dirge-like piece the most intriguing and compelling cut on this release.
He offers versions of Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" and "All Along the Watchtower," and Richard Thompson's "Time To Ring Some Changes." The vocal harmonies with Eric Sinclair on "Time To Ring Some Changes," provide the touch that makes this cover tune the most enjoyable.
Johnson's vocal range is limited but works best with his penned material. The production is spare but the use of harmonica, guitar, fiddle, and mandolin handily dress up the presentation.
Johnson's vocals and guitar are backed by Bob Loechler on harmonica and mandolin, Eric Sinclair on guitar and harmony vocals, Parker Wheeler on harmonica, and Andy Woolf on fiddle.
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