This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 2/03
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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No, despite its title, this is not a CD rushed out to provide prescience and commentary on the current state of world affairs. This is more about insight into Mr. Balkey's neighborhood. You know the one. It's across the tracks and always south of the berg inhabited by Mr. Rogers. And there's no gentrification in sight.
Balkey nails the who, what, when, where and why of failed or unfilfilling relationships. To wit:
"Afternoons on Galen Street" is a Homeric-like odyssey tale:
"...Don't know where my dreams went,Experiencing a deeper well of loneliness than usual in "Miles Roll," a trucker rehearses an intimate profession of love to his partner but ever so painfully never shares his thoughts and feelings as intended.
guess I never will
And now I'm left with pieces
of a chapter turned
lessons lived if never learned..."
With muted trumpet backing, the title cut, "Negotiations & Compromise," bleakly portrays a couple engaged in the art and act of settling for less:
"...Can't clear her mind to thinkThe turbulent life of an alcoholic is vividly portrayed in "I Quit." With somber cello backing, Balkey sings:
from shadows of too many scars
He won't search more for these
things he don't believe
In his forfeit resolve he'll reside
She won't look for life in eyes
She'll leave alone tonight
No more damage she'll have to hide
"...Until one day I found all my friends had left meHe continues on, talking about resisting the daily urge, finishing with:
They all died or been locked away
And I hit the ground
I felt so heavy
And I ain't been back to this day..."
"...But on the other days"A Dream I Had" is a vision of a departed partner's return, but the re-appearance only demonstrates pairing up again isn't the answer.
I'm going half mad
and I pray for the numb to heal the pain..."
Even the mandolin-backed, perkily-played "Still Here," is a blurred picture of optimism. The protagonist wavers on his faith in a relationship until, come song's end, he shakily professes that the bond remains.
In a brief respite and to sweet violin, "Take Me Back," fosters a harkening back to the more joyful time of yesteryear's youth.
Balkey's songs are of the intimate vein and work well with his soft vocals. You may rightly ask why $15 should be forked over for these tales of woe? Because, regardless of its setting on the emotional continuum, well-written and well-performed artistry is worth it.
Balkey, on vocals and guitar, is backed by Andy Fox on guitar and slide guiatr; Denise O'Brien on vocals, flute and percussion; Jeff Twardzik on vocals; Antje Duvekot on vocals; Jerry Allender on trumpet; Alfred Goodrich on cello; Wendy Fuhr on vocals and violin; Vince Brennan on mandolin; John Sagle on accordion and Laurie MacAllister on vocals.
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