3 April 2004
Here's what you'll find on the What's New page at Rambles, your best
source on the Internet for roots and traditional music, fiction,
folklore and movie reviews!
Go to http://www.rambles.net to access the new edition and much, much
more! (Our archives contain more than 6,400 reviews, interviews and
other bits of excitement.) See you there!
Rag Foundation has turned away from its Welsh roots on Uplands, David
Cox complains. "The songs on Uplands have little to do with either the
traditional life, or the current situation, in Wales," he says. "Unless
they go back to staking out their own turf in Welsh folk-based acoustic
music, their careers could be very short."
Arlene Faith's River of Dreams is "a beautiful and peaceful album of
Celtic instrumental music," Jenny Ivor reports. "The 50 minutes of
music pass as if the listener is floating on a tranquil and
Karine Polwart steps out from the shadow of Scottish band Malinky for
her solo CD, Faultlines. "I cannot recommend this album highly enough,"
says Andy Jurgis. "If you want to hear contemporary compositions and
singing at its very best combined with a top band, you will not be
disappointed by this."
Darren Crossey's Coming Home "demonstrates his musical and vocal
ability with traditional songs, instrumental pieces and cover tunes,"
Jean Price says. "With pieces ranging from country to folk, from
ballads to lively, rollicking songs, Crossey shows he is a musical
force to be reckoned with."
Jeffrey Foucault is Miles From the Lightning with a folk recording that
demonstrates a courageous streak. "The songs are extremely well written
and expertly performed," says Nicky Rossiter. "His performance actually
belies his young age (26) and promises great things for the future."
Tom Russell made a good first impression on William Kates, but the
pleasure didn't hold true through his look at Modern Art. "If you've
ever attended a folk festival, you will likely have encountered a song
circle where singers both accomplished and aspiring get together and
each take turns doing a song. Everyone is usually treated respectfully,
sometimes even reverentially, regardless of their ability or lack
thereof," William says. "I fear that this sort of open-minded
egalitarianism that is part of the folk music tradition can legitimize
bad songwriting such as the songs on this disc."
A Canadian songwriter gets his due on Beautiful: A Tribute to Gordon
Lightfoot. "This shows the diversity and influence of Lightfoot's songs
-- they cross many musical genres and continue to inspire musicians,"
Erika Rabideau reports -- although she isn't thrilled with some
Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater takes us to Rock 'n' Roll City for some
Mississippi-born and Chicago-bred blues. Clearwater, says Jerome Clark,
is "a genial, gentle good-timer whose music may not exactly move your
soul but it will move your legs out onto the dance floor."
Joanne Shenandoah makes a Covenant between traditional and modern
sounds of the Haudenosaunee, or Six Nations Iroquois. "Covenant may not
delight purists, but Shenandoah's fans will want to follow her journey,
and those who like new age music should check out this album," says
Jennifer Hanson. "Shenandoah's blend of tribal heritage and modern
sounds is an intriguing one and one well worth hearing."
The Music of Corsica is featured in this new ARC collection of songs
and musical forms that "have lived on in certain mountain villages and
have been revived by the artists who perform on this well-produced CD,"
David reports. "Music of Corsica reflects the numerous cultures that
have made their impact on this remote but beautiful spot, and melded
Four bands -- Auri, Ilgi, Grodi and Rasa -- celebrate their musical
legacy on Beyond the River: Seasonal Songs of Latvia. "The music has a
passion and rawness that, at times, can be uncomfortable," says Andy.
"It is not music that will necessarily appeal to everyone but will
interest many interested in the authentic folk traditions of Europe."
The union of Solomon & Socalled is "a strange love affair" on
HipHopKhasene, says Sarah Meador. The marriage of klezmer and a modern
beat is "a great party, and we should take the time to enjoy it," she
Dromedary is Live from the Make Believe in this "very entertaining
instrumental album of fine world music," Wil Owen says. "It is hard to
say which half of this CD -- the studio created first half, or the live
second half -- is better. The quality of both is excellent."
Bad Livers have an odd name, but Horses in the Mines is "down-home,
foot-stompin' bluegrass," according to Alicia Karen Elkins. "If you
like bluegrass, this CD will tug at your heart and assault your feet."
Kelly Wright says it's No Secret Anymore on her debut recording of jazz
standards. "Kelly sings a succession of old songs while stamping her
own identity on each," says Peter Harris. "This is a fine debut by a
singer with a great voice."
Gilbert Head didn't see the movie, but the soundtrack of Master &
Commander: The Far Side of the World still impresses. "For those who
are devotees of the film, or fans of period jigs and hornpipes, I
strongly recommend this soundtrack," he says. "I also eagerly look
forward to actually seeing the movie that I've already 'heard.'"
Bernard Cornwell has made his mark writing novels set in several very
distinct periods of history. In her interview, making histories,
DeborahAnne MacGillivray taps into his creative process.
Pamela Petro "takes her role as cultural ambassador for the South too
seriously and not seriously enough" in Sitting Up with the Dead: A
Storied Journey through the American South, says Tracie Vida. "Both
facts damage an otherwise fascinating glimpse into the cultural
heritage of America's southern states."
S.E. Schlosser digs deep into the U.S. Northeast for quirky stories to
retell in Spooky New England: Tales of Hauntings, Strange Happenings &
Other Local Lore. "This is the ideal book for curling on the couch on a
rainy afternoon and enjoying an entertaining read. The stories will
take you into the heart of New England's landscape and introduce you to
the locals, the scenery and the lifestyles," Alicia says. "It is as
much a wonderful cultural preservation tool as a book of scary tales."
Lewis Mehl-Madrona explores issues of faith and health in Coyote
Healing: Miracles in Native Medicine. "There is not a person who could
not benefit from absorbing this book and putting the author's teachings
into practice," says Alicia.
Bill Bryson provides A Short History of Nearly Everything, which Gregg
Thurlbeck calls "an excellent, very readable science guidebook thanks
to Bryson's ability to take the most arcane aspects of physics,
chemistry and geology and make them comprehensible to the layman. He's
a master of the clever comparison."
Charles de Lint takes urban fantasy in a fresh direction, creating a
new playground for modern mythology with Spirits in the Wires. "De Lint
has the power to draw readers back to his world, again and again,
simply by devising real people who exist in our world (or its very
close neighbor) and who touch magic and mystery in ways we can only
begin to imagine," says Tom Knapp. "He makes it possible to dream that
we, too, might stumble into another world or catch a mystery at play on
some random city street."
Tom eagerly devoured the pages of The Ironwood Tree, the fourth book in
The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black. "The
Ironwood Tree is the most frantic chapter for the three Graces yet,"
Tom says. "Intending to read the first few pages, I found myself
quickly reaching the end without pausing once along the way. Young
readers will find this a challenging and enjoyable read, and children
too young for the vocabulary will certainly enjoy having it read to
them -- especially with DiTerlizzi's highly detailed black-and-white
illustrations scattered throughout."
Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees came highly recommended to our
Kate Danemark ... but it didn't live up to the hype! "As great a force
as the Civil Rights Movement was, I don't feel it is truly reflected
very strongly here," she explains. "With such shallow characters it is
hard to believe in their motivations, and harder yet to feel they are
capable of affecting significant change."
Jasper Fforde continues the adventures of "literary" agent Thursday
Next in The Well of Lost Plots. "As in Fforde's other books, The Eyre
Affair and Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots is a fast-paced
and wildly funny romp in an alternate earth where books really matter,"
says Donna Scanlon. "Literary allusions abound, and the more versed a
reader is, the funnier it gets."
Kevin J. Anderson's A Forest of Stars, the second book in his Saga of
Seven Suns, is a winner, according to Daniel Jolley. "It has been many
years since I have been this excited and emotionally attached to a
science fiction series," he says. "Anderson not only builds upon the
galactic epic begun in Hidden Empire, he makes the incredible drama
detailed in the first book seem like a warm-up act to the real
Thomas Moran visits the Troubles of Ireland in Water, Carry Me: A Love
Story. "Though not free of the 'Oirish' cliches American writers can't
seem to avoid," says new Rambles writer Celeste Miller, "Moran's
compelling, deftly written prose drives the narrative along."
Jim Butcher gives Harry Dresden a very bad day in Death Masks. "The
series mixes tough-guy detective with Harry Potter for adults," opines
Ron Bierman. "A manic pace with continuous off-the-wall surprises works
better for authors such as Adams and Pratchett who emphasize the
Ann Tatlock presents a poignant tale in I'll Watch the Moon. "It is a
textured, lovely portrait of unconditional love for others overcoming
adversity and hatred," Donna reports.
James Patterson helps Wil pass the time with When the Wind Blows -- but
Wil says the audiobook failed to meet his high expectations. "I was a
little underwhelmed by this story," he says.
Mary Harvey spends time in Arkham Asylum: Living Hell. "One page into
this highly absorbing story and you'll find yourself in a landscape
both familiar and utterly different from anything you've read before,"
she promises. Despite the noteable absence of Batman through most of
the tale, the book "establishes itself from the get-go as a suspense
thriller that's so gripping, with characters so real and yet so
frightening in their disguised absurdities, that it would be easy to
classify it as a supernatural thriller."
Michael Moore is Bowling for Columbine in a provocative film that
targets "the climate of fear used by merchandisers and manufacturers to
ratchet up consumption, by politicians to promote their ends and by TV
stations and producers to garner better ratings," says Miles O'Dometer.
"Take it for what it is -- a one-sided diatribe on a very complicated
issue. But take it."
Tom is back with Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom, the second of the
action-adventure trilogy. "While it was certainly not equal to Raiders
of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones's second appearance on the big screen
was a welcome addition to his heroic saga," Tom says.
That's all for another day here at Rambles. Hurry back soon -- new
reviews are posted each week. Cheers!