A Review of the CD
by Richard Shindell
by Richard Shindell
Shanachie Entertainment Corporation
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:
"...At four a.m. on 80 East
Clever, and it works.
It's in the nature of the beast
To wonder if there's something missing
I am wretched, I am tired
But the preacher is on fire
I wish I could believe..."
"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:
"...So May - take good care of the kids
He ends the song with:
Tell them I love them
I'll send a few quid when I can
I know - this is no kind of life
But you've got to be strong
When you're a fugitive's wife..."
"...And May - they've got me in sight
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.
There's at least twenty-five
It's down to a fight or a flight
"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.
"...He had a kinder face
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:
The kind I've learned to hide
Behind these cold unyielding stones
That used to be my eyes..."
"..Alone there in a sea of blue
"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.
It circles every afternoon
A single hawk in God's great sky
Looking down with God's own eyes
He soars above Reunion Hill
I pray he spiral higher still
As if from such an altitude
He might just keep my love in view..."
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
"...You never told that lie
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.
That I could never let slip by
You never tried so hard to hide
What I never saw with my own eyes
We never watched our first blush fade
From summer glow to winter shade
We never look for greener days
I never wonder if I should have stayed..."
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.
- The Next Best Western (4:35) Richard Shindell
- Smiling (4:43) Richard Shindell
- May (4:37) Richard Shindell
- I Saw My Youth Today (3:18) Richard Shindell
- Reunion Hill (4:28) Richard Shindell
- Beyond The Iron Gate (5:24) Richard Shindell
- Darkness, Darkness (3:56) Jesse Colin Young
- Money For Floods (3:46) Richard Shindell
- Easy Street (3:58) Richard Shindell
- The Weather (3:49) Richard Shindell
- I'll Be Here In The Morning ((4:18) Townes Van Zandt
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