3 September 2005
Here's what's new at Rambles.NET, 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 8,200 reviews, interviews and
other bits of excitement.) See you there!
The Love Hall Tryst sings Songs of Misfortune. "There is no particular
reason the Love Hall Tryst should sound like the Young Tradition, the
Watersons, Waterson:Carthy or the Voice Squad, but that's how many of
us are used to hearing English folk-harmony singing," Jerome Clark
reports. "The four Trysts -- two men, two women -- lack the vocal depth
of the just-mentioned. Still, they do all right."
Tony O'Connell and Andy Morrow "have paired up to record a truly
enjoyable album," Heather Lewin-Tiarks, the latest addition to our
writing team, says. "Their self-titled CD is a well-balanced blend of
virtuosity and musical maturity. ... Highly recommended for traditional
musicians looking to learn tunes, this is a must for Irish trad
The Scottish Guitar Quartet makes its Landmarks known in this gem of a
new release. "This quartet will enthrall the listener, particularly
those who have never heard their music," says Ann Flynt. "Although I
have never been to Scotland, I feel a certain kinship with its varied
musical forms, its history and culture."
The McCabes perform in the Dark Before the Dawn. "Often old-timey,
sometimes Irish and always instrumentally sound, their latest album ...
is definitely worth a listen," says Katie De Jong. "The instrumental
sets, which blend modern and traditional instrumentation and are dubbed
with cute-but-cheesy titles like 'Reely Funky' and 'Reely Jammin',' are
undisputably the best numbers on this album."
Kevin Collins "has a wonderful voice that projects a love of the lyrics
and the sentiments he delivers," says Nicky Rossiter. For proof, he
offers two recent Irish-country recording projects, This is My Home and
Jump In & Swim. "Collins gives us a wide range of songs all sung with
love and affection that will lift your heart even if you do not have a
drop of Irish blood," Nicky says. "He has a knack for writing nice,
seductively simple songs that we can all believe we can sing."
Eddy Lawrence "reaches Inside My Secret Pocket and pulls out an album
and a half of spine-thrilling, blood-pumping folk-rock," says Sarah
Meador. "Relationships on the skids make an appearance, along with
cheating, selfish lovers, uncertain new friends and some good
old-fashioned self-loathing. All are handled with refreshing energy and
Chuck Brodsky's voice "has an unassuming, conversational quality to it
-- slightly rough-edged but soft and warm," says Joy McKay. "From the
start of Color Came One Day, his sixth recording in 10 years, one
senses the presence of a sensitive friend. ... This is an excellent
album from a fine songwriter."
Andrew Smith reaches Escape Velocity with this new CD. "Smith takes us
on a journey of wordless musical expression, telling evocative,
authentic stories with percussive, exotic instrumentals," says Jane
Eamon, another new member of the team. "I was struck by the intensity
and diversity of musical moods Smith was able to convey."
Jackie Frost blurs the lines between country and folk music on
Calliope. Carole McDonnell approves of the result. How much, you ask?
"This is a great album to score a love affair to!" she replies.
James Leva marks a separation of musical talents with 'Til I Know. "It
is easy to hear this as a 'divorce album' in the vein of Bob Dylan's
Blood on the Tracks and Richard Thompson's Hand of Kindness," Jerome
Clark concludes. "Leva's writing (he composed nearly everything here)
is better than I remembered it; or, more likely, it's improved because
he appears less focused on penning Nashville hits and more on actually
Blues artist Jimmy Thackery skirts the edges of tragedy on Healin'
Ground, Carole McDonnell says. "Resolve and healing are on hand
Hugh Masekela holds a Revival with South African influences informing
his jazz style. Unfortunately, Gregg Thurlbeck says, "the album begins
a slow slide back into mediocrity. ... The result is an album that
wants to be dangerous, that wants to break down barriers, that wants to
inspire and uplift but which, with a couple of exceptions, succeeds
only at being dull, safe and forgettable."
As presumptuous as it may seem to claim to have captured the best music
of an entire continent on a single CD, Gregg opines, "The Best of
Africa is a strong and reasonably diverse collection with many of the
most influential African pop musicians of the latter part of the 20th
century represented. ... Let's just hope that Universal Music realizes
that they've short-changed the continent and will remedy the situation
with another couple of equally strong collections of African music."
When Suzanne Vega performed with Nerina Pallot at the Anvil in
Basingstoke, Engand, Ellen Rawson couldn't stay away. She tells us all
about it in her concert review!
Mitchell Fink touches a nerve with Never Forget: An Oral History of
September 11, 2001. Daniel Jolley calls the book "by far the most
personal and emotionally compelling book I have read about the
terrorist attacks of 9/11. I honestly think every American should read
this book -- now more than ever. ... So many of those people showed
great bravery and humanity, and it's really uplifting to read about
those 'little' but powerful stories that you never heard about on the
Edward Lodi expounds on things ghostly in The Haunted Violin: True New
England Ghost Stories. "Lodi's third collection of ghost stories from
New England ... is a pleasant trip to the locations he describes," Tom
Knapp says. "Lodi has a laidback, affable manner to his tales, even as
he relates the spooky goings-on in houses and bogs, graveyards, inns
and even a public library."
Eric Garcia presents us with a pair of mysteries -- and some undercover
dinosaurs -- in his new omnibus publication of Anonymous Rex and Casual
Rex. "The book is written in first person, in the classic style of ye
olde detective mysteries from the golden age of Dashiell Hammett and
Sam Spade," says Daniel Jolley. "And make no mistake -- aside from the
unique dinosaur angle and the constant showcase of sarcastic wit and
genuinely funny writing, Garcia knows how to construct and tell a good
Celia Rees concludes the saga of early American settler Mary Newbury in
Sorceress, which follows the young girl's path from Puritan settlement
to Indian village, and beyond. "Those who enjoyed Witch Child will also
be pleased to learn the fates, both good and bad, of various characters
from that book," Tom Knapp says. "Sorceress is a delightful book, an
excellent sequel and further proof that Rees is one of the top writers
of young-adult historical fiction working today. I recommend both books
Joseph Boyden makes his fiction debut on a Three Day Road. Its essence,
says Gregg Thurlbeck, "is captured with remarkable precision and
brevity in a single sentence 50 pages from the completion of the story.
'We all fight on two fronts, the one facing the enemy, the one facing
what we do to the enemy.' Everything else in this terrific book is an
expansion on this central notion."
Walter Mosley is looking for The Man in My Basement. "Mosley writes so
well that it looks easy," Jean Marchand says. "There is never a
misplaced word or a contradiction -- just smooth, effortless, elegant
prose all the way. He gives us something to think about as we sit on
our porches unable to sleep."
Alice Hoffman delivers a hard message in The Ice Queen. "This novel has
a positive message -- live life to its fullest because you never know
when it will end -- wrapped in a negative presentation," Wil Owen says.
"The Ice Queen harps on life as sadness, life as unfulfilling, life as
pain. ... So, if you get motivated through negative vibes, this novel
just might be for you."
Tom Knapp follows a different path from Yavin in Star Wars Infinities:
A New Hope, which posits a story in which Luke Skywalker failed to
destroy the Death Star and the Rebel Alliance was beaten. "Chris Warner
has written an exciting what if version of the popular movie that
started it all," Tom says. "With no more movies in the works to keep
fans interested, it's ideas such as this that will help keep the Star
Wars franchise strong."
Tom Knapp feels let down by The Brothers Grimm. "With a clever idea for
a plot, a strong cast and director Terry Gilliam at the helm, The
Brothers Grimm should have been an obvious winner," he says.
"Unfortunately, Gilliam dropped the ball on this one, forcing clever
twists and visual effects into the film without direction or cohesion."
Daniel Jolley is back for the final installment in Scream 3. "The
Scream trilogy brought fresh new blood (in copious amounts) to the
horror film genre," he says. "Scream 2 was something of a step
backwards from the first movie, but Scream 3 marked a turn back in the
right direction. Fortunately, Wes Craven knew when to stop."
Next, Dan sets the wayback machine for 1985 and The Breakfast Club.
"The Breakfast Club is probably the archetypal movie of the 1980s, at
least that of the youth in America. It is an indelible part of cultural
history and remains as fresh and brash as ever today," he says. "This
is a great movie and one that appealed directly to young people."
That's all for another day here at Rambles.NET. Do hurry back!