This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 3/02
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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As with his previous CD "Compass & Companion," the highlight of Mark Erelli's latest release is the uncanny versatility apparent in both his vocals and material. His youthful twang is remarkably engaging regardless of genre, and he spritzes his folk offerings with Americana, country, pop, swing and traditional music.
Recorded in the Civil War era Memorial Hall in Monson, Massachusetts, the song selections are all rooted to the New England area in one way or another.
There are no lyrics contained in the liner notes. For someone like myself whose attraction to words is like moth-to-a-flame, this lack of lyrics allows focus on the musical presentation. Atmosphere and settings dominated my first listenings, followed by attention to storylines.
The most compelling offerings are "Every Goodbye," a Jim Armenti composition, and the John Greenleaf Whittier poem, "Ichabod," set to music.
"Every Goodbye" offers a most captivating character, bad-boy Walker Jermaine. Erelli opens the cut with:
"I've been called every bad thingProving to be a marvelously told story-song, "Ichabod" has an ethereal-sounding beginning, leading into a percussion, guitar-backed and sung recital of the engaging Whittier poem. How did Loreena McKennitt fail to swoop down from Canada and nab this one?
some I can't name
by judges and lawyers
and folks I've never met..."
The traditional Civil War song, "The Drinking Gourd," is presented in a marvelously hypnotic rhythm.
A languid organ background in "Blue-Eyed Boston Boy" establishes an appropriate funereal, dirge-like atmosphere for such a sad story.
"The Devil's Train" meshes traditional, gospel and country sounds in a compelling rhythm that readily brings to mind a steam engine rolling down the tracks.
The longing and love lost present in the enjoyable "Theresa" is Bruce Springsteen at acoustic octane.
This inability to pigeonhole Erelli's music may raise havoc with the placement of his CDs in music stores, but it's certainly to our benefit. He quite capably spans the genres. Thankfully so.
Erelli, on vocals and acoustic guitar, is assisted by Joe Barbato on accordion and Wurlitzer piano; Kevin Barry on acoustic and electrci 6 & 12-string guitars; Lorne Entress on drums, percussion, reed organ, Celestaphone and vocals; Jim Henry on mandolin, acoustic guitar and dobro and Jim Lamond on bass.
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