A Review of the CD
by David Mallett

by David Mallett

Copyright 1999
Rounder Records
One Camp Street
Cambridge, MA 02140

This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 10/99
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
send me an email message

David Mallett's latest release, "Ambition," is not a concept album per se but it concretely portrays a disappearing landscape for many born in the 1940s and 1950s. Having outlived what once seemingly was an unrelenting sense of hope and promise, the world as an oyster scenario has been forceably transformed into a past-the-prime acceptance of personal and worldly fate. From a premise of nothing being beyond reach, acquiescence to and grudging acceptance of a more sedate sense of possibilities is the spiritual mindset now passably tolerated and endured.The liner notes following "Sportin' Days" sums it up best when Mallett writes: "Sometimes I long for the time in my life when the world was about twenty square miles and I owned 'em all."

Combining a current assessment of the state of affairs with youthful memories in "Wild in the Sixties," he offers:

"You Can't Go Home Again," nicely entwined with sentimental, reflective guitar, continues the theme: The most moving song is the introspective title cut "Ambition," destined to become a classic. How Mallett designed this cut profoundly adds to its emotional dynamic: Mallett sets up each of these verses by following with: "Walkin" captures both his prevalent theme and also reflects on economic insecurity in the 1990s: Mallett balances his release with two philosophically upbeat cuts, "Lilacs" and "Turn It Over to Love." "Lilacs," with accordion and fiddle backing, is an ode to a loving relationship, from past-to-present. "Turn It Over to Love" advises: Age can produce an element of wisdom and Mallett's last two cuts reflects this. Saying that all we really can control in our lives is our approach to the world, he counsels residence in a loving state of mind to best ward off the slings and arrows of life that come our way.

Mallett is a straightforward, unelliptical songwriter, employing elements of easily visualized imagery. This is a evocative release from start to finish, a smooth, flowing mixture of splendid writing and instrumentation, with a feeling of both brutal honesty and, at least with the final two offerings, a measure of hope.

Mallett on guitar, harmonica and vocals is backed by Steve Sheehan on acoustic and 12-string guitars; Byron House on base; Russ Pahl on electric guitar; Larry Atamaniuk on drums; Kathy Burkly on drums; Steve Conn on accordion and Hammond B-3; Richard Ferreira on acoustic guitar; Andrea Zohn on background vocals and fiddle; and Garry Peters on keyboard.

Track List:

All songs written by David Mallett.

Copyright © 1998-2015 Kevin & Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews. All rights reserved.

Ownership, copyright and title of this folk music CD review belongs to me, Kevin McCarthy. Ownership, copyright and title are not transferable or assignable to you or other parties regardless of how or if you or other parties use, copy, save, backup, store, retrieve, transmit, display, publish, modify or share the CD review in whole or in part. Please read the "Terms, Conditions and Disclaimer" section on my web site for additional information about using, quoting, or reprinting this CD review.

Send inquiries to: send me an email message.

Return to Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews home page.

To return to the last web page you visited, click the "Back" button that appears immediately below: