A Review of the Paul Kamm & Eleanore MacDonald CD

"like water"

"like water"
by Paul Kamm & Eleanore MacDonald

Copyright 2005
Freewheel Records

This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 9/05
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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The music of Paul Kamm and Eleanore MacDonald is what I call 'winter music.' And for the smart alecks out there, no, it doesn't give me a fever and runny nose. Shivers, yes, and best enjoyed in quiet solitude, with maybe a soft fire going and introspection on the menu.

Kamm and MacDonald's music is usually spare but involving, offering a very thin wall between performer and listener. Background music it isn't.

The opening cut, "The Judas Silver," addresses, among other things, the 'exploration, discovery and claiming' of others'property and both the oblivious and nonchalant exploitation that accompanies such. A curious dichotomic threesome of lines:

"...How the cold wind sings
The cold wind blows
And which it is nobody knows..."

"Salt In My Tears" uses everyday examples to depict those lacking economic power, fortune and access being simply ignored or discarded and soon forgotten.

The title cut, "Like Water," is a pastoral ode to that which both nourishes and anchors us during the many storms of life.

Following what your core being is telling you is right, is the theme of the salsa-inflected (the music, not the condiment) "Listen To Your Heart." This one will get you out of your chair or off the sofa.

In the first of two songs in collaboration with neighbor Utah Phillips, Kamm and MacDonald turn bravery and cowardice on their respective ears in the co-written "Peace Jumpers." Yes, it is difficult to endure the horror that is war, but it is also arduous to stand by one's beliefs in the face of enormous, continuous and ominous pressure and threats. A vision of Kate Rusby performing this song somehow appeared to me mid-tune.

"Talking About Freedom" is a lengthy, seven and a half minute edgy riff on how forgetting or forsaking what we know is nurturing and humanly important leads to misplaced priorities, savagry and the ultimate unraveling of community and humanity.

"Starlight On The Rails," penned solo by Phillips, is performed by Kamm and MacDonald at a slower-than-usual pace, adding to the effect of the lament.

The closer,"Talk Radio," is listed in the liner notes but not on the actual CD. A satirical take on the fear, hate, division and inaccuracies spewed from the mouths (well, maybe a little lower and on the other side of the anatomy) of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage and others, and featuring actual audio of these self-appointed, moralistic but 'do-as-I-instruct, not-as-I-do' windbags, this cut eviscerates the wrong coming from the right. One verse:
"...We'll tell you what to be firghtened of
And who you can and cannot love
And just which God is up above
Are you one of them or one of us?..."

Kamm and MacDonald 'force' the listener to slow down, ruminate and reassess. Who can't use more of that, along with enticing harmonies, in their lives?

Paul Kamm on vocals and guitar and Eleanore MacDonald on vocals, are backed by Mikail Graham on guitar, bass, electric sitar and backup vocals; Albert Vasquez on percussion; Murray Campbell on fiddle and Dave Smith on piano

Track List:

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