This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 7/02
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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Want to shake things up a bit? Here's a method guaranteed to work. Get a group together and play Mark Bradlyn's song, "Where Home Is." Whether residing on the left, center or right of the political spectrum, listeners will have some sort of visceral reaction. Otherwise, they're either dead, in a coma or achieved nirvana.
This cut places the heretofore placid concept of home in a simultaneously universal as well as unique context for every individual, family, community and country--with our experiences and knowledge providing definition. Bradlyn sings:
"I think I know where home isHe adds to the definition:
It's where the ancestors' bones are buried
It's where we murdered the missionaries
It's where we packed up the baggage we carry
That's where home is...
...I think I know where home is
It's carved on the mileposts by these unwilling pilgrims
It's branded on the hearts of these displaced millions
It's banished forever from the eyes of our children
That's where home is"
"...I think I know where home isThrow this song into the discussion pits of "The Capitol Gang" or "The McLaughlin Group" and they'll be eviscerating each other for hours. But this cut is not a simple liberal cant. All persuasions will find grist for their own particular mill, both political and personal.
It's someplace beyond the tumult and the torment
It's the melody to an unending lament
It's where the poet learns the inner language of absent
Home is anyplace at all we find ourselves at this moment
That's where home is..."
Bradlyn's opening cut, "Cementville," a portrait of the racial divisions in small town Texas, ties directly into the sentiment expressed in "Where Home Is." Fiddle backing and Bradlyn's vocals combine to provide an emotional impetus as he speeds up his delivery of the lyrics with each succeeding line in the individual verses. Bradlyn sings:
"...For half an hour everyday their love was strong in every wayThe song "Lighthouse Keeper" has an interesting construction. In the opening verse, a lighthouse keeper is unable to decipher a bad dream he has one night. While all appears normal with seals barking and waves crashing, his days are spent in vain looking for ships to assist. The last verse clarifies his murky premonition:
a love that knew no boundaries had no borders
but when the school bus reached the high school gate
he'd drop her hand, they'd separate
and she couldn't catch his eye til school was over..."
"...Out at the buoy our dory is rockingIn "Tender Young Shoot," Bradlyn uses the analogy of a young plant and homeless youth:
oars sweeping even, arms pulling strong
up in the lighthouse the keeper is packing
decades of watching...now it's time to move along."
"How will you keep on growingBradlyn's gentle voice blends well with his words and music. He writes with a level of elegance and a tinge of obliqueness that is both intriguing and refreshing. This is his second release--let's hope for more.
when you're cut off at the root?
and where will you find your water?
you're a tender young shoot...
...Were you kicked out of your family?
or did you cut out on your own?
did you leave 'em feeling angry?
did they even notice you were gone?..."
Bradlyn, on guitar and vocal, is assisted by Rick Walker on drums and percussion; Stan Poplin on double bass; Matt Bohm on stand-up and electric bass; Dennis English on fiddle; Kris Yenney on cello; Mary McCaslin on vocals; Chuck McCabe on guitar and vocals and Ilan Heer on guitar.
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