A Review of the CD
"The Womansong Collection"
by Gerri Gribi

"The Womansong Collection"
by Gerri Gribi

Copyright 1996
Lilyfern Records
P.O. Box 8021
Green Bay, WI 54308
ph: (920)-437-7373
ph: (800)-BUY-MYCD (orders only)

This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 11/98
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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"The Womansong Collection" is indeed "a small, eclectic sample of a rich heritage" as Gerry Gribi puts it. Blending autoharp, dulcimer, guitar, mandolin and bass with her rich, vibrant voice, she has created much more than a curiosity piece of "women's music". She is offering living, breathing history here, timely and overlooked subjects useful as jumping off points for discussion in high school and college classes. Acting as a pedagogue, she covers women's rights, personal freedom, unionism, gender roles and stereotypes, voting rights, societal violence, hunting, slavery, and unrealized human potential among other subjects. What really makes the release work is that the content doesn't harangue the listener, plus the music is professionally presented and very enjoyable.

Opening with "The Hills of Kentucky," she offers a wistful tune about being elsewhere but wanting to return to the Cumberlands to see the blossoms of Spring. This cut has a nice rhythm and an "old-timey" sound to it that fits right in with the geographical area being described.

"Mountain Song," a powerful Holly Near-penned piece is presented a cappella and then dovetails into "Which Side Are You On?", probably best known recently from its Dick Gaughan rendition. Both songs eviscerate the mining companies and their long-standing history of terror-inducing tactics and thugs.

Peggy Seeger's composition "I'm Gonna Be An Engineer" is the best offering on this release. The female subject of the song states:

After enduring seemingly well-meaning but ignorant and selfish advice first from her mother, then her boss at work and finally her husband, about what her roles should be and how she should feel about them, she answers back: In "Oh Dear, What Can the Matter Be?", a turn-of-the-century parlor tune set to words, she lampoons the "everpresent truths" on why women should not be allowed to vote, Gribi sings: The twist in the last verse goes: "The Craft Maid's Policy" is a wonderful old English song about the gentry "having their way" with the lower classes but it offers a delicious twist. Three gentlemen out riding come upon a maid and express faux concern for her. She replies to one: The gentleman salaciously agrees to her "offer", dismounts and lets the maid get on the horse in order to lead her over to a patch of land and a nearby tree. She rides off only to be overtaken by another of the riders. She pulls a gun, warns him away, and states: On taking full responsibility for oneself in "Prince Charming Doesn't Live Here," after the subject endures a failed marriage, Gribi sings: She continues in her last verse: Gribi wrote this song for the award-winning video documentary "Poverty Shock: Anywoman's Story," based on discussions with women who had previously been receiving welfare. As she writes in the liner notes,"...one shattered myth which consistently arose was that of the "Prince Charming," the person who would magically whisk them away and make their lives perfect.

"Whole People," is a touching and sweet composition about the roles and masks we fall into and wear, based on society's gender expectations. Gribi, covering the human spectrum, sings:

There are twenty four "woman-positive" (as Gribi puts it) cuts offers here, a combination of songs from two of Gribi's previous releases, plus two new songs. Come for the message, stay for the music, or vice versa, or both. You won't be disappointed.

The musicians on this release are Gribi on vocals, autoharp, mountain dulcimer and guitar; Kris Grimes on vocals, guitar and mandolin; Fawn Kehl on vocals and double bass; Lee Nichols on vocals and guitar; Brian "Smokey" Christenson on fiddle; and Randy Hoecherl on fiddle.

Track List:

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