This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 1/99
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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Canadian Jim Layeux's second release best showcases his strong songwriting talent--the ability to create traditional sounding compositions and also write songs complete with messages applicable to the present day. His limited vocals take getting used to at first but become a bit charming after a while.
"Mary Brown" and "County Green" are both sweet ballads. "Mary Brown", the slower of the two, details a young couple finally getting back together after a separation assists in solidifying their love for each other. Loretto Reid adds an excellent touch on the pennywhistle. "County Green" is more uptempo and is performed with more of a traditional folkish sound although it could easily be transformed into more of a celtic number if say, Andy M. Stewart, got ahold of it.
In "The Earth Has Sent A Message," Layeux offers a plea, combined with admonishment and humor, to treat the environment more senstitively and respectfully. As a result of mankind's neglect and abuse towards the earth, weather patterns are being affected and the result is Canadians engaged in backyard barbequeing in January while surfer girls are appearing in Iceland. He sings, "The earth is telling us something, when you're rowing a boat up a street."
"Little Girl Standing on A Dock" is an emigration tale, with a great swingy rhythm, about the life of a particular individual who came to this country. Because his vocals, lyrics and music synthesize best here, it's one of the best cuts on this release.
Two uptempo commentaries on the social upheavals caused by the modern-day economy are "Union" and "Second Class Species." The uptempo "Union" comes across like an old-time labor rag, with Layeux on banjo and Reid again on pennywhistle. "Second Class Species," is a more biting take on the effect of computers on today's work force and work world.
"Broken Trees," a dark visage about the effects of a major storm on the people depicted in the story, could easily have been lifted straight out of a Fred Eaglesmith songbook---it's that effective. It's also eerily reminiscient in style and content to Dylan's "Ballad of Hollis Brown."
This is a nice production from a straightforward performer. Nothing will overwhelm the listener but the combination of singing, songwriting and musicianship has a synergistic effect that makes it time well spent.
Layeux's singing and guitar, banjo and pennywhistle-playing is backed by a group of solid musicians: Grit Laskin on concertina; Victor Bateman on string bass; Curly Boy Stubbs on guitar, mandolin and shaker; Jeff Barnes on fiddle; and Loretto Reid on pennywhistle.
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