A Review of the CD
"Wilderness Plots"Rosehill Records
This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 5/07
The concept album is an unusual take for a musical release --
Willie Nelson's "Red Headed Stranger" seemingly the most
commercially and artistically successful and one in which a sole artist wrote and
performed all the material. Tom Russell's folk opera, "The Man From God
Knows Where," was a terrific achievement, with the
vast majority of songs written by Russell and performances by a
handful of artists.
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Now, along comes "Wilderness Plots," a hybrid CD of sorts.
It's genesis is a same-named book written by Scott Russell Sanders
detailing the settlement of southern Indiana, roughly between the time frames of 1770 or so and 1860.
This musical release is comprised of songs written and sung by Indiana
residents Carrie Newcomer, Tim Grimm, Krista Detor, Tom Roznowski and
Michael White, all based on direct and indirect inspiration from the
pages of Sanders' book.
Made daring by the unique collaboration of singer-songwriters, the
major question facing this effort is does it work? Unabashedly, yes.
This collection of songs takes the listener 'there' right alongside the
menagerie of historical characters.
Tom Roznowski's "Whenever I Look at Trees" opens the selections.
Singing as a settler viewing an ocean of trees and the other diverse
elements of nature but envisioning what will come, one line in
particular jumps out: "...whenever I look at trees I see cities..." On
a later cut, "Living Things," Roznowski sings "...living here requires
you to kill a living thing..." How ironic it was left to Dylan so much
later to summarize life with his "The Times They Are A Changin."
Carrie Newcomer follows with "Biscuits and Butter" vividly detailing
the hardships of the settler's journey.
With banjo backing, Michael White's eerie "Bones" is primarily but captivatingly spoken word.
Krista Detor follows, with "More Than I Dare Say," offering a wonderful tale of a young girl's hopes and dreams.
As do the others, Tim Grimm does marvelous work throughout with his
contributions, beginning with "Fruit," a tale regaling a land of
bountiful harvests but impeded by the need to first eliminate the
current residents, the Indians. Later on comes Grimm's "Frostbite of the Soul," truly a
Sung by Detor and Grimm, Detor's "Aurora Means Dawn,"
is a compelling song illustrating the conflict within a couple having
between staying put with the familiar or striking out for the unknown.
A song for all, the lure of a better life elsewhere, even as a stranger
in a strange land, is rooted in all of us.
Although obviously bound together and terrific as an aggregate, a
number of these songs could easily stand alone as single cuts for radio
Years ago, General Electric made great use of the tag line "Progress is our most
important product." "Wilderness Plots" more than elaborates on
this subject in its own way.
- Whenever I Look at Trees - T. Roznowski
- Biscuits and Butter - C. Newcomer
- Bones - M. White
- More Than I Dare Say - K. Detor
- Fruit - T. Grimm
- One Woman and a Shovel - C. Newcomer
- Jemimah Palmer - T. Roznowski
- The Moon is Forgetting - M.White
- Zenas Carter - T. Grimm
- Ice Mountains & Hairy Elephants - K. Detor
- Hermit - M. White
- Squaw - T. Grimm
- Rachel Street - K. Detor
- Healing Waters - C. Newcomer
- Living Things - T. Roznowski
- Aurora Means Dawn - K. Detor
- Israel Coe - M. White
- Frostbite on the Soul - T. Grimm
- Jug Whiskey - C. Newcomer
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