This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 2/03
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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It is interesting what Tim Harrison has done with his latest release. He has re-recorded seven songs from his discontinued early CD "The Stars Above" and combined them with seven new compositions to create over an hour's worth of offerings.
The result: long-time fans will, first and foremost, enjoy his latest material but also appreciate the new arrangements on the resurrected selections. Listeners newly exposed to Harrison's music will receive an excellent overall immersion into his musical world.
Two of the new cuts, both poems set to music, are exceptional: "The Song of Wandering Aengus" and "Sea-fever."
Softly back by guitar and harmonica, Harrison gently sings the words of W.B. Yeats' elegant poem. It's a cut that draws the listener in with its barebones subtlety.
John Masefield's "Sea-fever" absolutely spot-on captures the lure of the ocean. To guitar and mandolin backing, Harrison sings:
"I must down to the seas again"Home Boys," like a number of fellow Canadian James Keelaghan's songs, unearths a bit of history unknown to probably almost everyone not directly connected to the shameful tragedy. That tragedy being the English policy from 1870-1940 of shipping the sons and daughters of the poverty-stricken in Great Britain to Canada for employment as indentured farm laborers.
To the lonely sea and sky
And all I ask is a tall ship
And a star to steer her by
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song
And the white sail's shaking..."
The engaging "Fortune and Men's Eyes" concludes with these loving lines:
"...When our past would rob the present timeThes most enjoyable of the "old" offerings are numerous.
And all our woes would try to slow us down
You're like the sun to which all floweers bend
When the night is burnt away and sorrows end..."
The title cut "Wheatfield with Crows" opens and closes with a Van Gogh vision surrounding a tale of the boundless passion, energy and outlook of the young. With a nod to Van Gogh, Harrison sings:
"...And in the darkened roomsThe theme of "Elizabeth's Lament," individual female freedom, is akin to that of the current film "The Hours."
Streams of streetlight bathed their bodies as they moved
Slowly tracing Aphrodite's pas-de-deux
Through the starry nights..."
As mentioned in the liner notes, from a re-reading of Hamlet emerged "The Parting Letter To Ophelia."
"Joy Alright" is an ode to shouldering on to reach one's goals despite any and all setbacks. And for those feeling the least bit of self sorry, Harrison offers:
"...Old men sleeping in the alleys"The Stars Above" tackles this same theme, along with some bashing of those whose sole life focus is political and financial gain and nary a nod to the spiritual:
Women sunk in doorways deeper than the blues
They push their carts past a love they do not know
Still they wake up in the morning
Trying to find something new..."
"...In the city streets you listen for the soundsHarrison adds:
But the poets and the prophets all went underground
Bank towers loom over steeple spires
And the status quo smothers hearts of fire..."
"...Still every dawn in creation yetHarrison, on vocals, guitar, mandolin and bass, is backed by Sahra Featherstone on Celtic harp; Tom Leighton on accordion; Liane de Lothiniere and Lisa Weitz on background vocals; Paul Mills on guitar and Chris Whitely on harmonica.
Lets you make a life if you don't forget..."
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