This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 1/00
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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The preeminent impression after listening to Pat Maloney's very first release is that his distinct gift for coupling words and presenting images was solidly evident eight years ago back in 1992. Sometimes, he complies and connects all the dots of his musical landscapes for his listeners. Other times, he plays more of an impressionistic role and leaves interpretation up to the beholder. His subject matter may or may not differ from that of many singer-songwriters but he creates far more literate and compelling visions than most. Witness the first two verses of his evocative opening cut "Just Like Goodbye":
It's like living in a lamp kept by Aladdin
There's only one whose touch can bring this fool to life
And if wishes were perfume I would fill this lonely room
with the smell of someone sinking out of sight..."
I will fly, I will. I'll get a running start.
I'll sing and buzz like an arrow does
when it's heading for it's mark.
I will swoop and fall, whistle, scratch and sigh.
Hang like an exclamation point upon the parchment sky...
These feet made out of lead have always curbed my flight.
These concrete hands and this heart of sand have fixed my earthbound flight
This world is but a snare and if I can kick free
I'd be like a bird then, except for gravity...."
All the warnings you have heard of strangers in the woods
and all the lessons you've been taught don't do you any good.
As you hurry on you drop your last small piece of bread
and walk in without knocking on that house of ginger bread.
But it's you who writes the story; it's you who turns the page.
Will I be the wicked witch who locks you in your cage?
And as I reach out to touch you, will you turn without a word
and pass me out the tiny bone of some small flightless bird.
Or, will I be the woodsman with bright and shiny axe?
Who searches in the forest and finds your scattered tracks.
And after I have saved the day and freed you from your jail,
will we find the way home or another aimless trail?"
The most poignant offering is "The Loneliness Birds," containing a description of the moment Maloney learned about the tragic, accidental death of his 16-year-old son. Utilizing uillean pipes at song's end heightens the mournfulness of this cut:
Then Jesus grew up
and we grew apart.
The thorns grew around
His Most Sacred Heart.
What I realize now,
that I didn't know then,
was the seeds of those thorns
had been planted by Man.
And the Loneliness Birds laid another stone egg in the nest of my heart.
"There's police in the driveway!"
These words come from my wife.
I ran to the door
for the worst day of my life.
I knew what was coming,
I didn't have to be told.
The cops gave me the details
and my body went cold.
I remember a time
a few years ago.
My son got off the school bus,
it had just started to snow.
His coat was unbuttoned,
and as he walked up the drive
it was like watching a tear
sliding down from an eye.
And The Loneliness Birds laid another stone egg in the nest of my heart.
I've watched my mother
at too many graves.
saying "Our Fathers",
singing "Amazing Grace",
walk away from the gravesite
in a sad single file,
meet a hundred kisses
with another brave smile..."
There's silver! There's silver in the sun. I'll cash it in.
I will ransom all these gifts; the ocean's thrum the planet's spin
And I will buy back with these jewels the songs of saints, the prayers of fools.
Aha, is this how wisdom starts?
Light my way, mend my heart.
Tell me, does the wild bird like to sing? Does Picasso like to paint?
If only Michaelangelo had closed the ring; if only Joan of Arc would faint.
I'd be free to seek and find, and the blind could lead the blind.
And the waters of oblivion could part.
Light my way, mend my heart.
I'm aching! I'm covered with a bruise the size of death.
Hurry! There's everything to lose; creation's gasp, a baby's breath.
I'll need it all; the candles and the matches.
Your thread, your needle and your patches.
At last, I'll see the Master's art.
Light my way, mend my heart.
Two sea gulls were grazing the docks and the beach.
My heart took a breather with the law out of reach.
He sat down on the pier, lit a smoke, drank a beer,
joined the gulls for a snack, licked his lips and sat back
and waited for the dawn's surly light to appear.
Now my heart's been an outlaw ever since he was young.
Thrown in jail by them bastards, the brain and the tongue.
He's been beat up and battered and shook every which way.
His wanted posters are on bumper stickers from here to L.A.
But with all of his problems he still pities the soul.
That poor fool got life with no chance for parole.
Now my heart has been thrown out of all the best bars.
Sang back-up vocals for all the big stars.
Played ball with the Yankees, and danced with Astaire,
played poker in Eden, won the pot with a pear.
Amd he could be happy, there'd be nothing he'd lack
if the rest of the body would just get off his back.
Last night with the sky all silent and black,
the brain and the tongue caught the heart in the act.
Dragged him back to his cell, locked him in, gave him hell
But this ain't no defeat. The heart's cool, he ain't beat.
He'll just plot and he'll plan 'til the day
when the brain and the tongue finally sees things his way."
Maloney on lead vocals and acoustic guitar is assisted by Rosie Maloney on backup vocals, cat-paws and tambourine; Steve Piper on electric guitar, rickenbacker 12-string and backup vocals; John Dady on acoustic guitar, mandolin, octave mandolin, bodhran and backup vocals; Joe Dady on fiddle, banjo, harmonica, uillean pipes and whistle; Chuck Parnell on bass; and Michael Plouffe on drums and percussion.
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