This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 9/02
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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Listening to political and social commentary in songs brings many long-debated questions to the fore: is it simply singing (literally) to the choir? Does music promoting a certain viewpoint really alter the minds of non-believers? While certainly interesting, we'll leave the answers, if they exist, to others and focus instead on the quality of Tom Pacheco's musical and lyrical presentations contained in his latest release.
This is certainly a release steeped in his strongly held views, his preachings detractors might say. But, point one, regardless of your address on the political spectrum, the understated, instrumental backing enhances the ambiance and ultimately the message of Pacheco's words. And, point two, Pacheco's political bent is not presented in a caustic rant. He makes his points melodically.
The past, present and future are the compass points of this release. Pacheco individualizes societal crucibles, the telling moments in life, sometimes poignantly, sometimes wistfully, sometimes angrily, but always in a fashion worth hearing.
He lambastes this country's corporate economic gymnastics in "What About Us." Beginning with blind faith but hurtling topsy turvy towards a shattered life and full-blown cynicism, he opens with:
"We used to get there Monday early for a long full day of workThe angry, pleading chorus of those provided the opportunity to pursue other employment possibilities goes:
We'd see the bosses in their offices, every one a bright young Turk
They told us we were part of something bigger than our lives
We'd see their smiling faces, we never saw their corporate knives..."
"...What about us? What about us?"Indian Prayer (The Land I Love)," also recently on another Appleseed offering, Pat Humphries' "Hands," is given a solid gravitas by Pacheco's vocals. It's as if one is hearing something from a spiritual prayer book.
We who worked hard, we who had trust..."
"If I Could Come Back" is a reflection on life. Backed by haunting dobro and bass, Pacheco sings:
"...I've seen it all, the struggle, the painBut he adds that if the possibility of returning exists:
The sunrise of love, the beauty of rain
But emotions runs dry, they get tired and used up
I understand why one life is enough..."
"...I'd want to come back where there's magic and lightUtilizing the image of a battered piano baking in the desert sun in "Broken Piano," Pacheco sings the sole remnant of a concluded relationship is a love song composed on the weatherbeaten instrument. The question remaining is what does the piano represent:
Shadows and dreams, every star bright
I'd want to come back as a summer night..."
"...A shrine or a tombstone depending on your point of view...""Provincetown" is a touching song revolving around the memories of love. Unfortunately, this love has been ruptured by tragedy.
Political or personal, Pacheco fashions compelling musical stories deserving of a wider audience.
Pacheco, on vocals and guitar, is backed by Pete Seeger on banjo; Scott Petito on bass, fretless bass, upright bass, octave mandolin, electric guitar, lap steel, percussion and pad; Jerry Marotta on drums and percussion; Steve Gorn on Bansuri flute; Steinar Albrigtsen on vocals, high string guitar and 12-string guitar; Leslie Ritter on vocals; Beth Reineke on vocals; Richard Bell on piano and organ; Jim Weider on nylon string guitar; Kevin Maul on dobro; Jay Ungar on fiddle and Roland Moussaa on high chant.
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