This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 4/99
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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Holding on, letting go, wishing to go back and change things, desiring to start afresh. Texas-based Jeff Talmadge's latest release, save for one instrumental, focuses on the capriciousness of human relationships and the emotional ties remaining despite the severing of the physical. Talmadge paints down-to-earth portraits on a verisimilar palette of souls on the run from pain and failure, adrift, longing and searching for something better.
With a slight drawl, his sensitive, peaceful voice intensifies the feelings etched in his music, as his persona reflects the "everyday person" in the crucible of life. Beth Galiger's flute work and Gene Elders' violin touches aid immensely in capturing the poignancy of this collection of songs.
Talmadge opens with the title cut "Secret Anniversaries," backed by Galiger's affecting flute. Delving into the dates and moments of life that etch meaning into the tapestry of our lives, he sings:
"...There are secret anniversaries
The ones noobdy knows
A private, quiet memory
That comes more than it goes
That comes more than it goes..."
"...A presence hides above the lights
A phantom of the living
It knows the secret days and nights
The meaning of forgiving
The meaning of forgiving..."
All she said and didn't say
Was ringing in his ears
He thought he understood her hopes
But he didn't know her fears...
It's such a costly choice
To take the easy road
Choosing between her head and heart
Shouldn't mean giving up her soul..."
Going through these things
Is like stepping in a river
Their meaning changes day to day
With the heart of the giver...
It's just a box
It's only stuff
But it's proof that sometimes even love
Is not enough..."
This is a intimate, tender, straightforward collection of stories, lovingly composed by someone who obviously knows his way around words. It may take a couple of listenings to fall under Talmadge's lyrical spell, but this is a CD that gathers momentum with each playing and is well worth giving it that time.
Talmadge on guitar and vocals is assisted by Beth Galiger on flute and backup vocals; Gene Elders on violin; Jeff Bramlett, Larry Seyer and Brian Wood on guitar; Peter Kempter and Fran Kammerdiener on cello; Spencer Starnes on upright acoustic bass; Glenn Fukunaga on fretless electric bass; Chris Scarles on percussion and drums; and Freddie Krc on drums.
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