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This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 11/01
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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Eclecticism is defined as composition drawn from various elements and styles. May it be humbly suggested that this definition be simply shortened to Small Potatoes.
This Midwestern duo seamlessly hopscotches from one musical genre to another on their latest release. A Patsy Cline-sounding tune is followed by one bringing to mind Bob Wills or could it be Lyle Lovett? A cut with its genesis south of the border is preceded by a piece remindful of the 1930s music scene. Add a few ballad-like numbers, a splash of self-deprecating humor and dash of whimsy, plus some instrumentals and, voila, you have this Jacquie Manning and Rich Prezioso, aka Small Potatoes, offering.
The title cut, "Waltz Of The Wallflowers," depicts two introverts warily attending a social function. Presenting the thoughts and fears whirling inside their heads, sometimes simultaneously, sometimes his line followed by her line, the pair eventually notices each other and finally end up on the dance floor to both their surprise and satisfaction.
The lambasting of various elements of society in "They're Not Normal Like Us," begins with:
"He was a cuff-linked, cut-throat, tough-talk boyish manBut there is high society, low society and then the off-the-scale, musicians. They impishly sing:
Hard-nosed, Dow-Jonesed, CEO'd, a snake in the grass
She was a high-class, high-toned, bleached blond socialite
Liposucked, tummy-tucked, stuck up and she was his wife..."
"He was a low-down, low-lifed, loud-mouthed mannish boy
Out on parole, testosteroned, over-imbibed, under-employed
She was a big haired, big-boned, tattoed turtle dove
They had a trashy TV talk-show kinda love..."
"...He was a gray-haired, grown-up, thirty-something childRemaining the optimist despite having taken a social tumble and residing in rundown hotel, the woman in "Hope," finds a vine growing through the cracked concrete and draws this analogy:
Picked some tunes, played the blues, slept til noon, his parents cried
She was a folk-ed out, Girl Scout, mop-topped, renaissance girl
They formed a band, bought a van, and set out to see the world..."
"...Life pushes up through the cracks"Paco Is Dying Tonight" is the Latino-flavored cut about the unspoken, lonely death of an immigrant from AIDS. The sweetness of the music is a marked contrast to the harshness of the lyrics.
And its always going forward
And it's never going back
You've got to stare it in the face, you can't flinch and look away
You can't deny what's going down
But if you draw your loved ones around you and you hang on tight
You can hold a little ground..."
The yin and yang of love is depicted in "Violets Are Blue" and "Till The Cows Come Home." Having been turned upside down by the ending of a relationship, the protagonist in "Violets Are Blue," sings in Patsy Cline style:
"...Flowers bloom in the winter, in summer it snowsSinging about wearing out the porch swing and dancing til down in "Till The Cows Come Home," a couple plans to keep on with their behavior:
And all the birds fly north out of the cold
This black band on my finger used to be gold
And given time this diamond will turn to coal..."
"...The kids'll squawk, the neighbors talkThe unexpected uplifting effect of the discovery of a solitary dollar bill on the ground is cannily presented in "The Dollar Episode."
The years'll come and go
Babe, I'll love you till the cows come home."
Paired with "Life Is An Accident,""1000 Candles, 1000 Cranes" explores chance and fate, with a large dose of irony. The most touching song on the release explores how pain and anger can be transformed through reconciliation.
Small Potatoes is akin to a human jukebox. If a certain style or genre isn't your favorite, hit the next track button and you're sure to find a song that pleases.
Manning, on vocals, guitar, tin whistle, concertina, bodhran, udu, pants percussion and agogo bells; and Prezioso on vocals, guitar, mandolin, national steel, piano, brushes on tamless tambourine, coffee can, udu and bongos are assisted by Bob Berry on piano; Doug Lofstrom on acoustic bass; Michael Smith on electric bass; and Alpha Stewart on percussion toys.
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