A Review of the CD
"Reunion Hill"
by Richard Shindell

"Reunion Hill"
by Richard Shindell

Copyright 1997
Shanachie Entertainment Corporation
ph: (212)-334-0284
fax: (212)-334-5207

This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 11/98
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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Relationships--those with God, the world, wives, husbands, family, lovers, the government--are touched upon in Richard Shindell's release "Reunion Hill." He always offers something worth listening to, often in extremely dense lyrics, but sometimes in light and clever word play. His stories here are like cascading images--little takes on life's big issues that combine to create a powerful force.

Opening with the Trojan Horse-like "The Next Best Western," one is left wondering, after an initial listen, what in the world is he doing leading off with a trucker and motel tune? After all, he's an East Coast ex-seminarian known for his literate expositions on the world. A second listen and voila!--the world of big rigs is just the housing for his subject, a truckdriver in the midst of an existentialist dilemma:

Clever, and it works.

"May" is his depiction of a despondent, paranoid, on-the-run IRA fugitive phoning his wife to grab a few moments of reassurance and sanity in his world. The chorus goes:

He ends the song with: Both the lyrics and the cadence of the words, blended with the desperation and loneliness evoked by Shindell's voice, plant the listener directly into the phone booth on that street.

"I Saw My Youth Today" is a multi-layered cut, offering perspectives on seeing your younger self in another. The intensity and beauty of the song is amplified with the addition of Radoslav Lorkovic's piano work. Shindell writes:

Larry Campbell's fiddle play on "Reunion Hill," adds a soulful Celtic-tinge to this lamentful tune. Shindell, from the perspective of a wife still holding out hope that her Civil War soldier husband is alive and will yet return, offers this poignant imagery: "Money For Floods" is a slow-paced, ironic juxtaposition of how financial assistance is always found and provided to victims of natural disasters, while day-to-day human needs often go unfulfilled because of the conviction that individuals must be held responsible for their life decisions, good and bad, regardless of the circumstances. There aren't many political points to be scored for photo opportunities with unwed mothers (as in this song), AIDS sufferers, the homeless, et. al.

Shindell offers up no venom here. He paints a picture with enough room for the listener to supply the frame.

"Easy Street" is a lyrically inventive composition lauding a beautiful relationship:

This is intelligent, enjoyable and thought-provoking music. Shindell's imagery is colorful and well-delineated. He has worked his way into the upper echelon of folk artists and this release only cements his holding.

Shindell's voice is excellent on this release and he is ably backed by Larry Campbell on acoustic, electric and baritone guitars, bouzouki, mandolin, pedal steel, lap steel, fiddle, and percussion; Lucy Kaplansky and Teresa Williams on harmony; Radoslav Lorkovic on piano, Hammond B3, harmonium and accordian; Dave Richards on electric and upright bass; Frank Vilardi on drums and percussion; and Robby Walsh on bodhran.

Track List:

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