This section is for the worthy albums that somehow slipped through the cracks without being reviewed by one of our staff.
Rani Arbo & Daisy MayhemCocktail Swing (2001, Signature Sounds). Daisy Mayhem is the best parts of Salamander Crossingangel voiced Rani Arbo on vocals and violin, Andrew Kinsey singing and playing ukulele (but not bass) and Dave Dick on mandolin, guitar and tenor banjo. Add multi-instrumentalist David Hamburger and the found instrument percussion whiz Scott Kessel and swing (and I do mean Swing) the sound West of the New England bluegrass of the old band and you have one of the most infectious sounds youve heard in a long time. You have to sway and smile as this bunch of musical friends kick off their shoes to have some fun with an eclectic bunch of tunesfrom Guy Clarks Baby Took a Limo to Memphis, to Lefty Frizells I Do My Cryin at Night and Luis Armstrongs Butter and Egg Man. Its a lighthearted romp with stellar musicianship plus Rani Arbo, whose crystalline voice is at home in regions style of music.
Patti CaseyUnder Different Skies (2000, Long Shot Music). This is Vermont based Patti Caseys second album, but it sounds like she has been an accomplished musician for decades. She has an easygoing country/bluegrass style with a hint of a Celtic accent. Backing musicians play a variety of fiddles, guitars and mandolins with ease and style. Her voice has effortless charm and a pure, sweet tone. The songs are all her own and are as sure as the rest of the production. Of note, the first track Down From Canada has a section of country scat singing that is worth the price of the CD. The last song Old Man, is simply the most moving song about a dog that I have ever heard (and Ive heard quite a few). This is a classic recording that begs constant play and wider recognition.
DervishDecade: Magical Irish Music! (2001, Compass). Dervish presents tunes from albums of the last ten years and shows a remarkably cohesive musical vision and stunning musicianship. The sound is youthful and acoustic, and the heart of tradition music beats strong in the strings, flutes, whistles and Cathy Jordans compelling vocals.
Kathy MoserAcoustic Live Demo (2000). This is a three-track sampler. Moser is a bundler of talent, some of it still raw. The first track, Praise or Blame, shows the ubiquitous Ani-effect on young singer-songwriters, desperate percussive guitar, desperate percussive lyrics and delivery. The second track Ride Horses, reminds me of a Catie Curtis in the vocals and Christine Lavin in its humor and perfect comic phrasing. Lastly, Carry You is a solid tune with an anti-intoxicant message. This is an artist to watch.
Mystic Rhythms BandMystic Rhythms (1999, Xquisite PLANET). Native American, Tibetan, Indian, Chinese and Aboriginal chants to a dance beat. Perhaps its the juxtaposition of the repetitious exotic melodies and harmonies with the repetitious dance beat. Perhaps its just a guilty pleasure
but this really rocks!
Casey Neill TrioPortland West (2001 Appleseed). This album was recorded live at a St. Johns Pub, obviously a place with great acoustics and an ace soundman. The story here is Neills distinctive tenor growl that dominates the Celtic flavored music. His high energy strumming on guitar ignites with Zak Bordens mandolin and Hanz Arakis flutes and whistles in this power acoustic trio. A cover of Bruce Springsteens Im On Fire is a surprise and a delight. Michael Devlin
Rust FarmSnows Of March (2000, Luminous Bloom Records). A laid-back effort by the New England bluegrass influenced duo of Chris Moore and John McGann, produced by Tim OBrien. Typical for Rust Farm are the sweet harmonies and outstanding songwriting with an eye to both melody and lyrics. Well worth the second listen it takes to warm up to this one.
Kristie StremelAll I Really Want (2001, Slewfoot Records). Several tracks feature revved-up punky electric guitar, while the rest have a hip, clear pop sound. Stremels convincing vocals and songwriting are what sets this album apart.
VariousHolding Up Half the SkyVoices of Celtic Women Volume Two (1999, Shanachie). It is sometimes easy to dismiss an anthology without a second thought, but not this time. Names like Dolores Keane, Karan Casey, Susan McKeown, Niamh Parsons, Cathie Ryan and (Im still clueless as to how to pronounce) Maeghread Ní Dhomhnaill catch ones attention before you listen. The distinctive voices of these woman and several other Irish and Scottish singers set each song apart, yet the music is tied together by more than just their traditional Celtic melodies. The arrangements lead beautifully from one song to the next making this an inspiring and transporting listen start to finish.
VariousThe Rough Guide to Irish Folk (1999, World Music Network). The title of this album makes it sound like a homework assignment, but it is really a fantastic listen. Variety is the key. This is not just a case of reeling off the reels, but a perfectly paced tour that varies in pitch, pace and production but not in passion. There is tin whistle and bodhrán, ballads in Gaelic and in English, sultry rhythms and uilleann drones. Each cut is a gem making for a fast seventy-five minutes of great listening.