We've got another jam-packed issue of fun and frolic, so let's get to it!
Here's what you'll find on the What's New page at Rambles.
Tom Knapp raved a few weeks ago about the debut album of young fiddler Tania
Elizabeth. Well, she doesn't disappoint on her second outing, This Side Up,
either. "Tania plays with the sort of freshness, joy and life which makes
the fiddle newly exciting each time you hear it," Tom says. "She also
continues to push the envelope in fiddle traditions with her innovative,
infectious arrangements and blendings of seemingly incompatible styles into
something utterly wonderful."
Bill Knapp is next with a taste of Ireland's west coast via Mick Flynn's The
Love of the Land. "I was not familiar with any of the numbers before hearing
this CD, but after listening to the likes of 'Crystal Morn,' 'Ballyfermot'
and 'County Mayo,' I have a better sense of what it means to be Irish," Bill
says. "This is not a paean to Celtic heroes; it is a tribute to the pathos
of common man and his land."
Nicky Rossiter takes a fresh look at Clancy nephew Robbie O'Connell and his
1993 CD Never Learned to Dance. "O'Connell has a distinctive voice which may
not please every ear, but he is an excellent performer," Nicky says. "The
real bonus on this 12-track album is that he is the writer of every song and
shows a wide range of skills."
Debbie Gayle Rose is next with the Celtic-themed folk album The Sun Upon the
Lake is Low by Mae Robertson and Don Jackson, who have compiled a disc full
of lullabies and child-oriented songs. "These are the very talented people
who came together to record this incredible collection," Debbie says. "My
biggest problem has been trying to hold back the gushing praise it
Tom Knapp is up again, this time with the jazzy folk-rock of Marie-Lynn
Hammond's recent re-release, Impromptu. "Hammond sings with a strong voice
and a clearly evident sense of fun," Tom says. "At times, the songs are
poignant, but usually she's going for the grin factor. She seems the sort
who'd be wickedly good entertainment in a small, crowded pub or cafe.
Sometimes, she sings in French just to confuse us."
Richard Cochrane continues a jazz theme with Joelle Leandre's Solo Bass.
"Leandre's bass playing often impresses with its apparent ability to create
a distinct idea within each piece, to make it a thing in itself without
using thematic or crudely conceptual materials," Richard says. "Here,
however, the pieces are much more jointed, falling into distinct sections as
if each one were a miniature suite."
Amanda Fisher has the blues angle covered with W.C. Spencer's Over Time.
"One of my favorite parts of reviewing is increasing my appreciation of the
rich tapestry of interrelationships between styles of music, like this album
does," Amanda says. "Spencer has done a wonderful job of pacing the album,
using nice contrasts between styles to advantage."
Amanda also serves up a big bowl of Hot Soup with Hot Soup! "It will have
particular appeal to fans of harmony, but should attract a larger audience
than that," Amanda says. "The mix of songs and styles is varied and
exciting, the original songs excellent, and the covers nicely chosen. The
performances are uniformly outstanding."
Ellen Rawson shares some Distillation from Erin McKeown. "Take some early
Michelle Shocked and combine with parts of Dar Williams, The Nields, Lucinda
Williams, Rickie Lee Jones and even Christine Lavin. Does that blend equal
Erin McKeown? Well, no, not really," Ellen says."While here and there she
may sound reminiscent of those artists, McKeown is remarkably hard to
Lynne Remick goes globe-trotting for World Serenade. "Although sometimes
ethnic songs of this nature can be too 'spicy' for one's tastes, these
appetizers will appeal to a broad range of listeners," Lynne says. "These
Latino and Celtic flavours are extremely tasty morsels, and will inspire
hunger for a bigger portion of the same."
Crystal Kocher returns to the setting of the film Gladiator for another
sample of the music by Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard. Their sophomore
release, More Music from the Motion Picture Gladiator, is "a wonderful
collection of music by two of the most highly regarded composers of our
time," Crystal says. "I can only hope that Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard team
up to create more music."
Ziya Reynolds urges us to take a new look at the world with John R.
Stilgoe's modern guidebook, Outside Lies Magic: Regaining History and
Awareness in Everyday Places. "Far from being some kind of encyclopedia of
mundane wonder, Outside Lies Magic is really a guidebook to exploring on
your own," Ziya says. "Stilgoe's examples pique your curiousity and make you
want to ask why about everything you see, especially the things you see
everyday but never noticed before."
Donna Scanlon opens the fiction department with Joan Aiken's The Whispering
Mountain. "Of all the books in Joan Aiken's Wolves Chronicles, The
Whispering Mountain is my favorite," Donna says.
Donna also attends Outlaw School with Rebecca Ore. "The picture Ore paints
is not a pretty one, especially since one can see some of the seeds of Ore's
future planted in conditions today," Donna says. "Yet in spite of the grim
oppressiveness of the future society, Ore invests her story with a spark of
Laurie Thayer blasts into a space war with Jim Cline's A Small Percentage.
"Flaws notwithstanding, A Small Percentage is action-packed and hard to put
down," Laurie says. "It is a very entertaining book as it is, but with a
good, stiff editing (and about 200 fewer pages), it would be exceptional."
Tom Knapp pays another visit to Kurt Busiek's Astro City for Family Album.
"Once again, Busiek has gifted readers with a refreshing new approach to the
superhero genre," Tom says. "His stories, no less marvelous and 'unreal'
that anything else on the market, has a true-life feel which is rare in his
Amy Harlib kicks off a trio of movie reviews today with the music-filled,
convicts-on-the-run caper, O Brother, Where Art Thou?. "Steeped in 1930s
period atmosphere, detail and the popular cultural zeitgeist of the day,"
Amy says, the film is "brimming with appropriate old-timey, country, blues
and folk music. ... Trying to spot the references to the original Odyssey
adds to the fun of watching this enjoyable upbeat romp so filled with
arguably its greatest asset, foot-tapping, heart-pounding tunes, that the
movie could rightfully be called a musical."
Janine Kauffman is next with The Whole Nine Yards, a funny film about a
hitman on the run in the suburbs. "There's only one gripe," Janine says,
"the last 15 minutes of the movie seem oddly out of place with the mania
that's gone before."
Tom Knapp concludes today's update back in Ireland for The Matchmaker, which
takes U.S. political aide Janeane Garofalo to the old country to dig up some
roots. "Marcy is even somewhat stereotypical as the American tourist with an
attitude towards her 'quaint' hosts, but Garofalo has the charm, personality
and presence to carry it off," Tom says. "If you're a fan of gorgeous
scenery, you'll see plenty of it here."