Music Matters Review

Vivian Leva—Time is Everything
2018, Free Dirt Records

Although the arrangements are a nice mix of country, honky-tonk, singer-songwriter and other contemporary sounds, the voice is of a young woman singing with a deep appreciation of traditional mountain music that goes well beyond her years. She yodels as easy and sweet as if she has been doing it all of her life, then it dawns on me as I look at her last name; Vivian Leva is the daughter of Carol Elizabeth Jones and James Leva, an incomparable traditionally influenced duo. I also realized that this was not the first time I had heard her voice. In July of 1998, I interviewed her parents by phone for The Music Matters Review, and as they were describing how she had already travelled with them to festivals, I heard her crying in the background for just a few minutes. On Time is Eveything Leva surrounds herself with excellent musicians, especially Riley Calcagno whose intuitive support on fiddle, banjo and vocals is an integral part of the music. She keeps the production uncluttered, true to the various forms of the songs. “Wishes and Dreams” is a simple waltz, carried by the sweetness of Leva’s voice and soothed by Calcagno’s gentle banjo. “Why Don’t You Introduce Me As Your Darlin’” sounds every bit like a classic honky-tonk country hit. Leva and Calcagno update traditional singer Texas Gladden’s “Cold Mountains,” with a simple banjo and guitar arrangement (click here for a charming live performance of this). An original recording of the song by Gladden can be heard here. Paul Burch’s “The Last of My Kind” sounds like a personal statement, perhaps commenting on the fragile continuity of the kind of music that springs from community and tradition. Time is Everything is somewhat of an Athena, a brilliant debut springing forth fully formed from a childhood filled with music. It is exciting to think of what the future holds for this deeply rooted musician.—Michael Devlin
[Click here to see our review of Jones and Leva’s Vertie’s Dream, released in 2000.]