4 February 2006
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 8,700 reviews, interviews and
other bits of excitement.) See you there!
Jez Lowe & the Bad Pennies are back with Tenterhooks (The Art Edition).
"Jez Lowe is one of the best singer-songwriters working on the scene
today," says Nicky Rossiter. "His songs are many and varied but his
roots are firmly in the coal-mining traditions of Great Britain -- and
from that black gold comes this gem."
Sam Steele recorded authentic English folk songs from 1959 to 1962.
Now, the Veteran label has released those recordings on a CD titled
Heel & Toe. "The sound quality, though not great, could have been a lot
worse, given the portable recording technology available to the layman
of the period," Jerome Clark says. "If not so crisp as the field
tapings Alan Lomax was making at the same time, it is still entirely
The Possum Trot Orchestra puts forth "an original sound that
integrates, in proportions that vary from song to song, folk and pop
approaches," Jerome says after spinning their self-titled CD. "As an
effort to fashion a kind of creative roots sound for the early 21st
century, this CD succeeds almost against expectations. There's enough
depth to it to repay many listenings ... and it boasts a distinctive
sound and a point of view that is appealingly its own."
Crow Greenspun reveals his New York-based songs on Blood & Decision.
"Despite the slightly jarring variety of genres on offer, I enjoyed
this CD," Nicky Rossiter says. "The story-songs have a power that could
produce some hits if they had a wider audience."
Tom Mank and Sera Jane Smolen study the Souls of Birds on this album of
voices, guitar and cello. "You may only get nine tracks here but you
get more than a fair share of good music well played and lyrics well
written," Nicky says. "Tom Mank and Sera Jane Smolen produce some
beautiful sweet sounds together."
Michael Jerome Browne & the Twin Rivers String Band prove themselves to
be "a Canadian national treasure," although the music on this
self-titled CD originates mostly from the southern United States, John
Bird exclaims. "The album is clearly Browne's tour de force," John
says. "All in all, this is one of my favourite CDs these days, in which
Browne delivers the variety he promises in his definition of string
Belinda Underwood is Uncurling into a jazz artist of note. "Belinda
Underwood's musical ability is beyond doubt; having taken lessons in
violin and harp, she eventually settled on the upright bass as her
favored musical companion," Nicky Rossiter says. "With more than a
dozen tracks, many from her own pen, she displays a talent far beyond
Knút Háberg Eysturstein makes his debut with Havsglóð -- and just
trying saying that sentence five times fast! "I'll take it on faith
that he goes beyond the traditions of contemporary Faroese music, but I
found that Eysturstein's music doesn't really sound all that different
from a number of American singer-songwriters -- until one listens
closely," says Robert Tilendis. "Quite aside from the fact that some
songs are done in Faroese, there are contrasts, tonalities, rhythms
that aren't quite what one expected. I'm sure the combination of
electronics, synthesizers, acoustic instruments and vocals is not
unique to Eysturstein..., but I've not heard anyone else who sounds
Julie Fowlis is staying true to her Hebridean roots, as is handily
proven by her interview with Debbie Koritsas. "Julie Fowlis had an
incredibly successful 2005," Debbie says. "It seems incredible to note
that Julie has only been in the public eye for about 18 months." Read
more in Debbie's complete review!
William D. and Marilyn Carlson Webber detect A Rustle of Angels in
modern society. "Along with Billy Graham's book on angels, this is
probably the second best book I have read on the subject," says Daniel
Jolley. "A Rustle of Angels is an honest, enlightening, ultimately
inspirational book that should really have a place on the shelves of
anyone interested in the subject."
Michela Wrong is certain I Didn't Do It for You in this history of the
African nation of Eritrea. "Wrong fills in all the blanks on this
amazing story backed by solid research and many hours of interviews,"
says David Cox. "It's a fascinating read about an obscure, but not
unimportant, part of the globe."
Donald B. Dewar offers a modern-day spin on a classic yarn with Jack's
Dad & the Beanstalk. "Much of the stuff of legends is derived from
actual facts, and it is interesting to see how the story of Jack & the
Beanstalk could have developed, through exaggeration, from events that
are easily explainable -- even Jack's climb up the beanstalk to the
house of a giant with a magic harp and a goose that lays golden eggs,"
Daniel Jolley says. "As interesting as it is entertaining, Jack's Dad &
the Beanstalk is a novel that parents, teenagers and children can enjoy
separately or together."
David Rose begins his Viking Sagas with the tale of Godiva, the famous
lady best known for riding bareback (and bare everything else) through
Coventry. "Rose, in his first novel, plays fast and loose with the bare
facts to create a Godiva who is wise, bold and selflessly charitable,"
Tom Knapp says. "The story he tells, which is woven thoroughly into the
story of Danish leader Canute's conquest and rule of England, is
interesting -- it was, at times, hard to put down -- but it is not
Al Sarrantonio carves up the pumpkins for a Hallows Eve celebration.
"This novel stands alone, although I sense that a familiarity with the
earlier books would have helped to understand certain aspects of the
plot," Tom says. "Still, despite some minor hitches, Hallows Eve
succeeds by providing a creepy location, sinister forces at work and a
population of innocent and not-so-innocent characters to weave into the
Aiden Beaverson uncovers The Hidden Arrow of Maether -- but Jennifer Mo
says this YA fantasy is ordinary. "There's nothing seriously the matter
with Arrow, and at the same time, nothing to make it stand out from
dozens of similar fantasies," she says. "If you don't mind spending an
hour on a predictable but certainly readable fantasy, by all means,
Harper Lee only did it once, but she did it well. "What do you do when
you sit down to write a book and you get it absolutely perfect the
first time? Unfortunately, you never write another one," Judy Lind
explains. "How could Harper Lee have possibly followed this up?
Anything she wrote after To Kill a Mockingbird would have been
anticlimax. So on the strength of one book, Harper Lee will be forever
remembered for writing one of the greatest novels of contemporary
Matthew S. Field captures a poignant mood with Father Like a Tree, "a
wonderfully told, beautifully illustrated book that grew from the most
innocent of origins: a 'tell me a story, Daddy' moment," Daniel Jolley
says. "Books like this encourage parent-child interaction and help
instill a sense of the joy of reading in the little tykes."
Tim Green seeks an Exact Revenge in this thrilling novel that owes at
least a tip of the hat to The Count of Monte Cristo. "He writes decent
thrillers," Wil Owen opines. "This one seems to be on par with his
other novels, although the emotional drain is way more intense. If you
don't mind that and a new twist on a previously told tale doesn't
bother you, this is an audiobook to check out."
Robin is A Hero Reborn in this miniseries providing a look at the early
days of Tim Drake. "Writers Alan Grant and Chuck Dixon pull out all the
stops, both doing some of the best writing of their careers," Mark
Allen says. "Now, while the previous statement could be considered mere
opinion, what has to be admitted as fact is that they established a
strong character that continues to enjoy success and solid fan support
in his own series to this day. That doesn't happen without strong
Tom Knapp is Lost in Paradise with Gen 13. "For all that Gen 13 is more
about cheesecake than champions, the writers generally tend to
entertain, and Lost in Paradise is no exception," he says. "It's a
pleasant romp in a tropical setting, and the storyline -- though
certainly not breaking new ground -- is fun to read. And sometimes,
that's all you really need to look for in a comic book, after all."
Michael Vance has issues with The X-Files: Volume 1. "Almost everyone
remembers The X-Files television show, of course. Its twisting plots
and foreboding, dark atmosphere are still being imitated by other TV
dramas today," Michael says. "Unlike you, the Topps artists in these
issues forgot the dark, ominous setting. In fact, they forgot what
Mulder and Scully looked like from panel to panel."
Chris McCallister, one of the newest additions to the Rambles.NET team,
got an early peek at Bambi II and shares his thoughts with the masses.
"I expected to be disappointed, but really wasn't," he says. But, he
asks, "does Bambi II match the original? It does not. Bambi is a moment
of movie magic that still stands as some of the most beautiful
animation ever done, with a powerful story."
Daniel Jolley finds himself Bewitched by this recent remake of the
classic TV sitcom. "Even though I'm still struggling with the concept
of Will Ferrell getting the opportunity to romance Nicole Kidman
onscreen -- and being paid buckets full of money, to boot -- I do have
to say that I enjoyed Bewitched more than I thought I would," he says.
"I'm not saying there is anything at all substantial to the film,
though, because there isn't. It's complete fluff -- but it's funny
Tom Knapp waves goodbye to Mary Martin and settles down with a Peter
Pan he can believe in -- the 2003 remake that has everything going for
it. "Peter Pan puts the magic back in the story, but it doesn't shy
away from the sharp edges and dark corners of life, either," he says.
"The movie is a celebration of joyful living, but it's a little sad,
too -- it's not that Peter doesn't want to grow up, he doesn't want to
want to grow up. And his inability to come to terms with his own inner
desire for a home and parents is both tender and touching."
That's all for another day here at Rambles.NET. Hurry back!