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This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 6/00
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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He's a rocker. No, make that a folkie. Could that be the blues? Why, that sounds like cajun. What is instantly apparent is this guy is truly a marketer's nightmare--just try and nail down his target audience. Demonstrating crossover proficiency in multiple musical genres, Jim Lampos' releases would require placement in multiple locations within a music store, in order for justice to be done.
But his one constant is literate lyrics that quite often could stand alone as poetry. Lampos displays exceptional descriptive ability and the knack for capturing energy and emotion, sometimes subtly, sometimes rambunctiously, throughout this release.
"Resurrection" is a prime example of his craftsmanship. Lampos, backed by soft guitar and drums, plus eerie-sounding keyboards, sings:
"...I shook to my soul
as I watched the sun go down,
the darkness in my mind
soon spread over the ground
And the sinister hymns
of the black-robed minister
lingered like venom
in my blood...
...Golden fire bring me back
to the realm of the living
from the heavens we arrive
as from the earth we spring
Laurel marks the site
high upon the ridge-
as the stone is aligned
the spirit is electric
Orion will rise again
in the East tonight
The Swan and the Dolphin
What once was hidden
will be revealed to our eyes
with the lightning of your heart"
Continuing his literate prowess on "Haunted Summer Love," he offers:
"The unfolding of the crimson dusk,
the reflections in the Sound,
all who come dress in white
for the recital near the fountain.
Common we stand alone,
all hands facing East,
holding the legend,
each word a golden key.
Our eyes are open,
the revelation's to come,
listening to the stones that sing
of a haunted summer love.
A single moment's decision
in this deepening of the day,
a simple kiss beneath the Evening Star
has swayed the fate of nations.
We have jettisoned the treasure
in the fierce winter storms,
our souls have crossed this ocean
in a haunted summer love.
Just as the circle has no beginning
So my love, there is no end.
Forever changing, forever returning
As the summer comes again..."
Changing moods, high-energy and violin and drum-driven, "Ten Cases of Rum" is a lively marriage of square dance and cajun rhythms. "And the Band Played On" is a blow-by-blow recital, minus the post cards, of what are seemingly Fellini-esque encounters on a band's road trip.
Deftly depicting a section around Coney Island in "St. Mark's Place," Lampos sings:
"...Scratching at the window of the House of Pain
Crusty kids begging change
Hang outside Coney Island High
cop a nickel--we'll get by...
You got your drifter and your hobo too,
your winos doing the boogaloo
You got your dealer and your junkie ghost--
all the people you love the most...
You got your paupers and your millionaires
all those Friday night closet squares.
Club rats in their ambient trance,
college kids pissing their pants
down on St. Mark's Place..."
The opening verse of the enchanting "On the Solstice" ably depicts its melding of beauty and mystery:
"On the Solstice we go to the Victory Garden
and visit with Cezanne
From thin air you have fashioned a key
to unshackle your soul from the tyranny of kings
and the incantations of the priests..."
His final cut, the seemingly stream-of-consciousness-driven but tightly written "The River Brought Me Here" is a just-short-of-ten-minutes folk opera that traverses a southwestern River Styx. Offering one of the best song opening lines ever, Lampos begins with:
"I was baptized by Lightnin' Hopkins in the Brazos..."
Buckle up for this one for it will take you on a most wild but exhilarating and fulfilling ride.
Without any intent to diminish the musical settings surrounding the lyrics, this will be a wonderful discovery for those who are elevated by the written word. Lampos has the gift.
Lampos, on vocals, guitar, keyboards and percussion, is backed by Chris Tedesco on violin; Gregory Amani on bass; John Feldmann on drums and bongos and Ed Sperry on keyboards.
All songs written by Jim Lampos.
Copyright © 1998-2015 Kevin & Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews. All rights reserved.
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