This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 6/99
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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According to Thoreau, the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. Fred Eaglesmith sings about them.
Eaglesmith can sing pain, sorrow, danger and despair as good or better than anyone else out there right now. His territory is one of gut level and primal life where the smell of sweat, pain, fear and desperation are omnipresent. His characters don't ask for much but their desires remain unrequited, the proverbial pot of gold always at arm's length.
Although some will argue Eaglesmith keeps retracing the same subject matter, he does so here in an even more spare lyrical style than before and with some unusually inventive arrangements. When's the last time (the first time?) your favorite performer utilized a theremin in the instrumentation mix? Check out "Steel Guitar." "Gettin' To Me" offers guitar play reminiscient of some of the old surfer songs. "Alternator" has a swing feel and sound to it.
"Rodeo Boy" is about a forlorn country soul who ignored his head, followed his heart, and now meanders around town wondering what happened. Eaglesmith sings:
A rodeo boy
in a one horse town...
A small town boy a city girl
she took him right out of his world
left him standing on the curb
now he's got the blues...
So I don't ride anymore
my saddle hangs behind the door
my boots are scattered on the floor
I walk around in shoes..."
Adding to his garage full of automobile compositions, "Mighty Big Car" goes to the fore as one of Eaglesmith's best car songs. He sings:
Twenty eight feet from bumper to bumper
the last of the sweet old time gas guzzlers
hard to drive harder to park
but when you do somebody remarks
Mona Lisa's got a little smile
likes to cut up a rug
every once in a while
never gets lonesome
never gets tired
I think she's in love
with a steel guitar..."
White doves in the hollow
I heard somebody say
nobody's ever gonna play
those songs that way again..."
This may not be a release for the acoustic set but it contains plenty to keep those interested in other genres more than satisfied. There's some early Springsteen here, when he was still more New Jersey than anything else. Cars, lovers, exes, despair--you'll find it all but at a definitely more rootsy level. This is a release whose appeal grows with each listening.
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