This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 10/99
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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Following one's dream, doggedly pursuing one's calling rather than what society dictates as the route to take, is the primary theme of Jim Gary's release "Midnight Muse." Although Gary also certainly ventures into other subject areas, three of his cuts "Go With the Flow," "Afraid to Fly," and "Winds of Fortune" repeatedly cover this premise of taking the path most true to oneself.
"Go With the Flow" has a high energy rhythm to it while "Afraid to Fly" is tenderly elevated by Sara Wollan on cello. "Winds of Fortune" is similarly uplifted by Brian Anderson's keyboard play.
In a bit of contrast, Gary provides balance to his anthems with "Approaching Summer," an analogy about the continued pursuit of the dreams and opportunities of youth as time continues on its unrelenting march ever forward. With "autumn in the air", everyone else is moving on with their lives while he has but "a pocketful of songs" to show for his endeavors.
The banjo driven "Dancer's Dream" sweetly portrays a crusty sailor leaving this world as he would wish, in pursuit of an illusory mermaid, so to speak. John Williams on accordion adds a maritime sound and feel to this tune, the best on this release..
"Political Waltz" indicts the games played by politicos, deriding the blaming and pointing of fingers for strategic advantage. The focus on posing and positioning rather than problem-solving is wearying the public, creating a question of the viability of the nation's institutions. Gary suggests that "none of the above" may be the way to vote.
The writer's lament is nicely depicted in "Midnight Muse." A line, a lyric, an idea bubbles up from the unconscious during the beginning of sleep and evolves into an insistent monkey-on-the-back that can only be resolved by getting up and writing it down. Unfortunately, most of the time, the late night efforts usually prove either less than scintillating or completely undecipherable come morning.
"Rings Around the Moon" and "Mama's Cheatin'" provide humor to the mix.
Gary shows a knack for clever touches with his lyrics and encases them in a variety of musical settings, utilizing guitar, keyboards, banjo, mandolin and cello to provide a diversity of sound throughout the release. This is a very solid first release from a promising singer-songwriter.
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