A Review of the Janet Bates CD
"A Time Has Come..."

"A Time Has Come..."
by Janet Bates

Copyright 2003, 2004

This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 10/04
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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This is the initial release of Janet Bates and two heapings of praise are immediately well-deserved:

1) She did it right, not on the cheap. Her liner notes thankfully contain complete lyrics and the genesis for each song, items that are too often missing from many first efforts.

2) She has an exceptional talent for dovetailing her song lyrics with engaging tunes and melodies.

But there is more to laud Bates for on this effort. A Canadian singer-songwriter and sometimes resident of Oregon, she has produced an earnest, socio-political release that provides commentary on local, national and international events, while showcasing the best, worst and moments-in-between that humanity has to offer.

The best offering is "A king song," a fairytale-like effort that chides the actions and arrogance of President Bush. She sings:

"...he spun stories to his people lest they find his true intent
the stories made them proud though they knew not what they meant..."

The following cut, "Neighbour," begins in a similar vein as if about President Bush's move into the White House but develops into more of a friendship/relationship gone awry over both perceived and real differences.

"American Soldier," written in reaction to a photograph in the New York Times of a weeping soldier, contains slight changes in the wording, and therefore the meaning, at the end of each succeeding verse.The opening verse, about a parade passing by, concludes with:

"...the crowd was blinded by the light
what they saw, they saw in black and white
American soldier going off to war..."

With the following verses, the soldier is actually in battle, loses some of his comrades and ultimately find himself alone, with no flags flying or trumpets sounding.

Bates also sings of Vietnam veterans, nuns imprisoned for acting on the swords-to-ploughshares admonition of Jesus, environmental concerns and refugees.

More personally, she includes a very touching and oh so accurate view of that most rewarding yet trying task of parenting a child. That song concludes with:

"...The clock on the wall shows twenty after eight
you argue with everything I say
you are late for school and I am late as well
if you care I really couldn't tell..."

Ending a failing relationship in "It doesn't matter," she finishes:

"...I am walking away without turning around
the man I once loved has been lost and not found
I saw him today somewhere deep in your eyes
I must leave quickly before I start to cry..."

Besides the subject matter of the material, listeners will enjoy the banjo and mandolin picking here, along with moments of violin, percussion and the previously praised instrumentation in which she encases her words. Bates' lyrics gently skewer, definitely display her values and are best when she she employs metaphor and veers from the literal. Her soprano vocals are clear and easy on the ears.

Janet Bates, on vocals and 12-string guitar, is assisted by Ken Bates on banjo, guitar and vocals; Gary Montesano on guitar and vocals; Rick Frank on harmonica and mandolin; Doug Jones on keyboards and piano; Tom Beckstrom on drums and percussion; Bobbie Bowlin on violin; Dawn McCauley-Smith on vocals; Jamie Morris on bass guitar; Steve Montana on mandolin.

Track List:

All songs by Janet Bates.

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