Lucy Kaplansky—Last Days of Summer


(Available only on her website and at her shows.)

Through her songs Lucy Kaplansky has made all who would listen welcome to the big, real things she has lived through. If you were listening, you remember a family reunion when she was a child, the night she met her husband, the moon that hung over her and her daughter, her mother and her dad as they grew old. We looked with her out the window of a Brooklyn train at a hole in our hearts in late 2001. Her lyrics compress details of clear observation while her phrasing lingers for a closer look. Her voice is an old friend among old friends (Richard Shindell and John Gorka), she sings and you know who she is. Most traces of her Chicago accent have disappeared, and when her songs have a place, it is New York City, the place she has lived ever since music was her livelihood. “Song Of The Exiled” is a tale of two taxi rides, one in 1995 and one present-day. In the first ride, the driver is a Hungarian survivor of the the WWII camps. The second driver is from China. Both are happy to be here as their stories weave themselves into the fabric of New York and “the promise of our flag.” The title track picks up the story of Lucy and her daughter. I remember when the arrival of her daughter first inspired some of her best songs, so I share her dismay that eighteen years have passed and now she’s going off to college. Kaplansky packs boxes and worries, “Hope her bed is soft enough, hope at night she’s not afraid/ And I hope her friends will be caring and kind.”  In “Independence Day” her vocal style may remind you of Mary Gauthier as it matches the defiance of her heroine singing “This is where it ends, this is where it ends/ Not setting foot in that house again.” As usual, Kaplansky takes some songs from other artists and makes them her own. The cover of Jackson Browne’s “These Days” is slow and contemplative. “These Boots Are Made for Walking” defies expectations of a campy rendition, instead becoming more of a companion piece for “Independence Day.” The last track shows that the heart of New York beats strong in the unsung heroes who hold it together. “Elmhurst Queens Mother’s Day” recalls the early days of the pandemic, “Then I read about a nurse’s day in Queens/In cotton scrubs she is the infantry/Weaponless soldiers in the fight/ Trenches painted in fluorescent light.” No vaccines, few masks, heroes coming home from work and isolating from their families. The Last Days Of Summer is once again Lucy Kaplansky letting us into her heart and her city, and the music plays in our heads, and we feel a connection. We are a little more at home in this time, and if you are a New Yorker, this place. —Michael Devlin

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