This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 10/02
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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Tom Paxton would be a wonderful uncle or grandfather to have--seemingly unpretentious, with great stories to tell, wise in the ways of the world and understanding of human deficiencies.
Listening to his music is akin to slipping into a pair of your most comfortable jeans or shoes. His music still displays a social conscience, combined with thoughtful reflection, and all with an unforced air.
While some young performers strain to produce quality material and other mature performers literally run out of things to say, Paxton remains, after all these years, a smooth, song constructionist.
The middle of this release, cuts 6, 7, 8 and 9, is Paxton at his sharpest.
The demise of a farming community is starkly depicted in "Early Snow." Paxton sings:
"...Clouds up over the Bitter RootsChange in the form of an interstate highway construction that retires old Route 66 frames "My Oklahoma Lullaby." Paxton's opening:
Getting darker every day
As soon as the wind turns westerly
They're bound to head this way
There's been no rain all summer
And all the grass is brown
This rodeo is over
This circus is leaving town..."
"Summer nights are hot in OklahomaWhat surprisingly induces the necessary drowsiness are man-made sounds:
They're like a blanket you can't kick off
So still you hear a dog bark up in Kansas
You can hear one neighbor snore and the other one cough..."
"...So I lie there and hear those truck tires humming"My River" paints a portrait of pastoral serenity:
I hear those air brakes softly sigh
Gears keep changing as they climb that hill
And that's my Oklahoma lullaby..."
"...Born in her valleyRemarkable imagery and breadth are contained in "Come Away with Me." Paxton sings:
I learned to hear her sing
The old ones taught me of her and her ways
Frozen in winter
Rising in spring
Low and lazy through hot summer days..."
"I closed the door to my Father's housePaxton traverses from the wide Missouri to Moses and the Pharoah's daughter, to the Sioux and Navajo and the Shenandoah, concluding with:
While I was still a boy
I sailed with Agamemnon
To besiege the walls of Troy..."
"Now God Himself is walking out"My Pony Knows the Way" serves up a tale of an equine designated driver.
Across these sweeping plains
He brings the racing fires
And He brings the soothing rains..."
Paxton continues to produce material that other performers will be borrowing, in this, a release that amazingly numbers somewhere in the forties for him.
Paxton, on vocals and acoustic guitar, is assisted by Nanci Griffith on harmony vocal; Anne Hills on harmony vocal; Tim Crouch on mandolin and fiddle; David Francis on upright bass; Mark Howard on acoustic guitar; Pat McInerney on snare drum; Kirk "Jellyroll" Johnson on harmonica; Al Perkins on dobro and Kona guitar; Jim Rooney on harmony vocal and Pete Wasner on piano.
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