A Review of the CD
"Summer Dancing"
by Lenore

"Summer Dancing"
by Lenore

Copyright: Elaine Records 2002.
(Elaine Records: ER-4402)

This review is written by Dai Woosnam,daigress@hotmail.com, 9/02

I so much wanted to like this album. It is the second album from this Toronto-based singer-songwriter: her debut album was in 1997. My review copy arrived in a handsome folder, along with some critiques of past performances. And with them a charming note from the artiste.

And when I e-mailed her my “Credo” (i.e. my philosophy when it comes to reviewing), she sent me another charming and perfectly weighted response. GOLLY, I wanted to warm to the CD. But alas, I couldn’t. And let me see if I can tell you why.

First, her publicity material quotes “Soundbytes” as saying that her lyrics “rise to the level of a Michael Stipe or a Leonard Cohen”. Quite whether this is a “puff-job” is debatable. You see, whilst I am not overly-familiar with the work of Mr. Stipe, Mr. Leonard Cohen is a song writer for whom I once had a high regard. (Mind you, it helped that I was under the spell of Dr. Timothy Leary at the time!)

And trust me, as the American Democratic choice for Vice-President nearly said of Dan Quayle of Indiana: “I know the work of Leonard Cohen, and madam, you are no Leonard Cohen”.

In fairness to her, she probably does not believe it for a minute: it is just that if someone is daft enough to write such stuff, then heck, why not USE it? Why not, indeed!

She includes in her Press Pack a gushing review from Canadian journalist John Taylor. (You know the kind of thing: he calls her voice a “marvel”. Methinks in wonder just what word he has left to sum up the voice of Maria Callas!) Well, in his review, he astonishes me by describing her battle-against-the-weed song (“The Smokin’ Song”) as “utterly hilarious”.

Look, I know that when it comes to reviewing, one man’s floor is another man’s ceiling, but how can ANYONE – let alone a journalist – use language SO loosely? Does he know what hilarity means? Either he had a whiff of the old laughing gas just before the song started, or otherwise I can only conclude that English is about his nineteenth language.

But, back to the Leonard Cohen association. In fact, she is the polar opposite of the bloke who wrote songs to seemingly help us commit suicide. For one thing, hers are in the main POSITIVE and life-affirming songs (despite some serious - even sombre - subjects like child abuse): and her lyrics are far more accessible than Cohen’s. Her lyrics make sense, but alas also make no impact. With Cohen, the lyrics rarely made sense (sober, at least!), but occasionally made WAVES in one’s “upstairs library”.

And here are also thirteen songs which, despite some excellent instrumental accompaniment by some of Toronto’s finest musicians, are each in search of a distinctive melody. So all-in-all, this is not a review I am enjoying writing. But it is not TOTAL gloom.

Her voice is limited, but refreshingly different. She clearly has a bubbly personality, and the voice is (in racehorse terms) by Loudon Wainwright lll out of Blossom Dearie. And from her photos she looks a million dollars. (Which always helps!)

So I reckon she might be good value as a live performer. But unless you have money to burn, keep your hands in your pocket when it comes to buying this CD.

Dai Woosnam
Grimsby, England.

Track List:

All songs written by Lenore.

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