This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 7/99
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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It is reassuring when a performer has the assuredness and determination to withstand the pressures and whims of commercial viability and create a product based upon vision and heart. Such appears the case with Garnet Rogers, especially with his latest release, where four of the cuts come in at over a problematic-for-radio-play, seven minutes long. The overall impression of his newest offering is one of the music as he felt it, time parameters be damned. A la "Field of Dreams," the sense is "I will create it, the programmers and audience can work out the rest."
Rogers has returned more to his acoustic folk roots with this CD with just one cut, the powerful "Stormfront," featuring electrical guitar. If there is an overall theme, it is one of questioning the cost of what is generously called progress. The loss of livelihoods, traditions, wisdom--the very mortar of communities--that occurs as global economics and the blind pursuit of the almighty lucre shifts jobs elsewhere, is turning viable municipalities into ghost towns populated by embittered, lost souls. The similar loss of the cohesive values that bind people together is also bitingly covered in Rogers' snarling best.
On the lighter side, Rogers provides an extraordinarily loving benediction on the pricelessness of love and a short story-like cut on the lifelong pursuit of and redemption offered when love is finally found and embraced.
"Next Turn of the Wheel" is the initial tune tackling the dissipation of long-standing communities. Rogers sings:
These highway signs are full of bullet holes
burnt rubber across the road
Someone's angry about something somewhere
They're just waiting to unload
We're putting bombs in buildings bombs in letters bombs in trucks
we're drowning kids in the backs of cars
We're dressing killers in Armani suits
we turn them into TV stars
We've becomes a race of leering voyeurs
We're big on Progress Sex and Death
Something evil is lurking in the darkness here with me
I can smell its stinking breath
It's in the blandness of our children's stares
It's in a courtroom in a suit
It's the hand that holds the gun that made these bullet holes
It's a secret pocket filled with loot
It's the soft white faces of the soft white men
with their soft white grasping hands
who laugh and sneer at those who have to stand and wait in line
and never get their chance..."
Written while waiting for a tow truck on the Massachusetts Turnpike, enroute to a friend's wedding, "All that is," is an enchanting blessing that fires a Cupid's arrow capable of penetrating the hardest of hearts. When Rogers finally arrived at the wedding, in part he sang:
May your love grow strong and always kind
May your hearts grow ever more entwined
In the brightest day or in the stillness of the night
May it be each other's loving hand you seek and find..."
How his world seemed to shrink and darken
Choices poorly made and chances lost
So the face that stared back at him from the mirror
was a pale and haunted portrait of the cost
Of no longer even looking for the mystery
waiting out his days it seemed to him
trying to fill the empty ticking hours
no sign or memory of the boy he'd been
Who'd been standing on the threshold of a mystery
Trembling in his eagerness to live
Someone was out there
Waiting for him somewhere
to accept the love he wanted so to give..."
That he was standing on the threshold of a mystery
Trembling in his eagerness to live
Praying she could somehow see and know him
and accept the love he wanted so to give....
To be standing in the wonder and the mystery
And that hopeful boy he'd lost so long ago
had returned and should he live a hundred lifetimes
This would be the only love he'd ever know."
He also does a pleasing job with the Eric Bogle-like "11:11," a composition featuring the gathering of old soldiers, and John Dowland's poem "Come Againe, Sweet Love doth now Envite."
It's great to have Rogers back among the acoustic ranks. His booming but evocative baritone, exquisite guitar playing and production, and universally topical songwriting are always a treat.
Rogers, on vocals, violin, viola, electric and acoustic guitar, Hawaiian guitar, National Resonator guitar, guitar synthesizer and mando-guitar, is backed by David Woodhead on fretted bass, fretless bass, upright bass, piano and harmonium; Corey Thompson on drums and percussion; Ian Bell on accordion; Randall Hill on mandolin and tenor banjo; and Annie Lederman on fiddle.
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