Musicians perform cover songs for many reasons. Sometimes, it's
a simple matter of liking a certain song. Other times, it's admiring
someone's song but also feeling an emotional attachment to it -- the
music and/or words having a connection in the life of the
re-performer. Once in a while, it's hearing in one's head how to add a
'personal signature' to a song that proves irresistable.
It's impossible to determine particular motivation so let's
just say Tracy Grammer's latest -- "Book Of Sparrows" -- gracefully
furthers her status as one of folk music's finest for here she makes
the songs of others her very own.
Tom Russell's "Blue Wing" opens the release. A tale of a
down-and-outer kicking around up and down the west coast, Grammer's
singing moves the tale along reaching, aided by Jim Henry, the harmony
chorus that instills the emotion:
Label this one a 'dreamer' cut, someone with little if anything to live for in the present using his tattoo in reminiscing of better times and days and pondering what might have been.
"...It's dark in here; can't see the sky
But I look at this blue wing and I close my eyes
And I fly away beyond these walls
Up above the clouds where the rain don't fall
On a poor man's dreams..."
"...I know love, I've seen love's face I understand its sorrow For every love I've ever had Has always met tomorrow Though I am Wednesday's child of woe I try not to be ungrateful But I was born at midnight black With a heart that can be hateful..."Dave Carter's "Lord Of The Buffalo" is a dreamscape, about looking for a place to fit in and just allowed to be as is, versus the reality one usually faces.
"...There's an endless plain Beyond the curtain of the pouring rain Where the golden prairie rolls forever And the tall grass grows Bitter wind blowing high and wild Have mercy on your wayward child In search of an age ago..."Carter's "Gypsy Rose" renders different possibilities of meaning. It is about an uncontainable spirit -- "...My love is like a gypsy rose, wild is the only way he grows, out where the sweet July winds blow, he blooms over on yonder..." -- but in toto, it brings to mind the possibility of Carter presciently writing of his own passing and a relationship he left behind.
"...So I built a house to keep him in Guarded him from the sun and wind But in the autumn (he grew thin In winter, he withered"Gypsy Rose" is followed by and paired with Paul Simon's "April Come She Will" -- another song of fleeting love and destined departure.
Now it's been thirty years and three Every night he calls to me And for as long as I shall be I know I'll follow..."
"...You keep it up You try so hard To keep a life from coming apart And never know What breaches and faults are concealed In the shape of a heart..."Longing for difference yet also connectedness, for independence but not separateness, wishing at times to be someone or somewhere else, with harmony just maybe over the next rise -- all describe the collective, interlocking themes of the music in "Book Of Sparrows."
Yes, the Flower of Avalon continues as pollinator, both for herself with this release but also those in her musical arc, leaving no doubt these are 'her' songs, her way and making us better for it.
Copyright © 1998-2015 Kevin & Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews. All rights reserved.
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