4 November 2006
Here's what's new at Rambles.NET, your best source on the Internet for
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Go to http://www.rambles.net to access the new edition and much, much
more! (Our archives contain nearly 10,000 reviews, interviews and other
bits of excitement.) See you there!
Searson may be overdoing it a bit on Follow, a recording of
hard-rockin' Celtic music. "There are some interesting and
well-executed fiddle compositions on Follow ... but the actual
performance is all too often drowned out by excessive guitars, drums
and bass, which detracts from what would otherwise be well-crafted and
enjoyable tunes," Mike Wilson says. "Don't get me wrong, I'm an admirer
of progressive and contemporary Celtic music, but the balance here is
all off-kilter. The emphasis seems to be on pace and volume, which
somehow misses the point."
Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger are musically revived with the rerelease
of Classic Scots Ballads. "This is a wonderful album," Jerome Clark
says. "Though there's no doubt it was recorded nearly five decades ago,
it sounds miraculously undated."
Chieko Mori explores the merits of the traditional Japanese zither on
Katyou Fuugetsu. "This is a CD for quiet, relaxing listening," Dave
Howell says. "Even the most casual listener will recognize that Mori's
delicate playing has a rare beauty worth exploring."
Carolyn Hester is remembered in The Tradition Years in this reissue of
classic folk material. "Hester lives in legend as the person who gave
Bob Dylan his first shot in a recording studio and, like many legends,
her reputation is better known than her music," says Michael Scott
Cain. "The Tradition Years reveals an achingly pure soprano that graces
the songs she sings, a voice that never strains, never reaches but
seems to soar effortlessly instead. It's intoxicating."
Jason Bennett presents his folky nature on Mindchange. "To those not
familiar with Bennett (including me), his music would be expected to be
heard performed in many a coffeehouse or workingman's bar," Kevin
Shlosberg says. "His songs cover such topics as marriage and love, loss
and wandering, fishing and drinking."
Swill & the Swaggerband believes Elvis Lives Here, which may not be
entirely true. "Elvis Lives Here is a solid album and Swill fans ought
to be pleased," Gregg Thurlbeck says. "But I don't think it has the
punch, the distinctiveness, to reach out to a significant new audience."
Sam Bush proves (again!) his musicianship on Laps in Seven. "Having
seen Sam's name crop up as a musician with so many other artists, I had
rather naively assumed that Sam was 'just' a session musician," Mike
Wilson admits. "Laps in Seven was quite a revelation, and left me in
absolutely no doubt that Sam is a consummate artist himself, with an
unquestionable talent for arranging and performing. This is an artist
at the top of his game, surrounded by the very best in the business --
the best musicians, the best songs -- all coming together on this
Gaylynn Robinson captures the Lone Star sound on Anthology: Songs by a
West Texas Songstress. "Anthology showcases Robinson's writing and
vocal skills with the sort of material one was more likely to hear in
the 1970s, when some terrific women singers -- most, sadly, now
forgotten -- made their mark in Nashville with sturdy songs and
affecting performances," Jerome Clark says. "Perhaps if this were the
'70s, Robinson would be a star."
Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison "is a live recording where the performer
truly connects with his audience," says Tom Knapp, who ordinarily is
not found dancing on the country music side of life. "For the span of
these 19 tracks, he was one of them, and his words and music to them
touches us all still today."
Fiona Boyes & the Fortunetellers summon Lucky 13 for their introduction
to the American blues crowd. "If 'Australian blues singer' doesn't
sound like a promising idea to you, you haven't heard Fiona Boyes, and
you haven't heard of the Memphis-based Yellow Dog label, which doesn't
sign anybody who can't deliver the goods," Jerome Clark says. "With
Boyes & the Fortunetellers behind the wheel, the delivery truck is as
packed as it can get."
Blues and jazz singer Tom Hunter bares his soul on Here I Go Again.
"Hunter's voice and playing may remind the listener of other more
famous artists, but that's not to say he lacks his own virtue," John R.
Lindermuth says. "He tickles the ivories with passion and uses his
voice like another musical instrument."
Aimee Allen is ready for a Dream in jazz. "Allen is well positioned for
success," Dave Howell predicts. "If she writes more or looks for more
unusual material for her next CD, Allen could become quite a contender."
There's more coming soon from Celtic Colours. Stay tuned!
John Yow discusses the art and inspiration in Wyland: 25 Years at Sea.
"I found the story about Wyland, his passion and his work interesting,"
Tom Knapp says. "But I kept wandering away from the text to enjoy the
art that illustrates this heavy tome to the point of distraction. It's
everywhere, in bold and bright colors, and I wanted to dive right in
and swim with the dolphins and whales. Wyland's art makes that very
Leland Bardwell listens to The Noise of Masonry Settling for this, her
fifth collection of poetry, which Sean Walsh says is "a meditative,
deeply contemplative work befitting one of the elder stateswomen of
Irish letters. ... There is a maturity at work here, an authority that
younger poets -- no matter how good they are -- cannot match."
John Kasich touches on hot spots of activism in Stand for Something:
The Battle for America's Soul. "We have all heard these sentiments
stated before," Wil Owen says. "Kasich is simply a cheerleader
attempting to rally enthusiasm over the apathy he sees in the people of
this country. He makes his points in what should be thought of as a
short audiobook. However, I feel this three-disc audiobook is about two
CDs too long."
Natasha Mostert sets Windwalker on an English country estate -- with
some unusual characters. "It takes some doing to make a rage-filled
murderer, even one attempting to atone for his crime, a sympathetic
character, but Mostert does it in a seemingly effortless manner," says
Laurie Thayer. "Few novels bring me to tears -- when they do, I can
only recommend them while offering a hanky to the next person in line."
Dave Duncan lays out the first half of a new duology in Children of
Chaos. "Duncan has a knack for telling an engaging story," says Laurie.
"Despite the varying plot threads, it's a fast-paced story that is
Mark Andrew Olsen tackles The Assignment in a spiritual mystery set
through time. "It is an espionage story packed with a divine twist,"
says Virginia MacIsaac. "The writer tells a tremendous story, and
matter-of-factly throughout the book engages the reader in a type of
spiritualism with muscle. ... It's a better than average book."
Okeyo A. Jumal spices fiction with fact in Spiritual Shackles. "Jumal
uses deft precision in drawing on his knowledge of black American
history whilst creating contemporary mystic and magical characters,"
says Risa Duff. "Although a long book, it never becomes prosaic or has
its intensity mitigated. Stick with it, as you will not be
Avi commits murder at sea in The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle,
an engrossing novel for all ages. "As historical fiction, readers will
find it filled with details about life on a ship in 1832, and it's
obvious Avi has done his research about the period," Tom Knapp says.
"As both a nautical adventure story and a murder-mystery, the novel has
both a riveting plot and several rich, well-developed characters to
hold your attention."
Paula Volsky disappointed our reviewer with The Sorcerer's Lady. "The
setting was intriguing, but somewhat sketchy," says Jennifer Mo. "I
didn't like any of the characters. ... On the other hand, there was a
good deal of suspense and court intrigue, which was enough to give me a
reason to finish the book."
L. Frank Baum's famous heroine gets a makeover in Dorothy, Vol. 1, a
reimagining of the Oz tale by Mark Masterson. "This Oz is a
science-fiction world with dramatic landscaping, robots, witches and
scientists -- and a scarecrow completely unlike anything Ray Bolger
ever dreamed of," Tom Knapp says. "Told through computer-altered
photography in a computer-generated world, Dorothy blends the look of
reality and fantasy so clearly, it's hard to tell where one ends and
the other begins."
Tom enjoys comics, but he would never call himself a Fanboy --
especially after reading this book by Mark Evanier, Sergio Aragones and
a bunch of spectacular comic-book artists. "With their aid, Finster
solves petty crimes, makes a stand against comic-book censorship and
finds a date for the dance," Tom says. "But, eye candy aside, it's not
a story that holds your attention unless you're really dedicated to the
idea of finishing the book."
Mark Allen takes a ride with The Hire. "Need to get from point A to
point B as fast and as safely as possible? Need a read that jacks up
your adrenaline level with adventure, humor and mayhem?" he asks. "The
answer to both needs is the same: The Hire."
Daniel Jolley catches a nightmare of a film in his Dreamcatcher. "We've
all seen Hollywood ruin some of Stephen King's most engrossing novels,
but we can't blame Hollywood too much for this cinematic disaster," he
says. "Dreamcatcher is just a lousy story; it pains me to say it, as no
one loves and respects King more than I do, but this has to be the
worst story idea that ever came out of his usually brilliant mind."
Tom Knapp gets back to the classics with the 1933 version of King Kong.
"I wish I could have been in a theater in 1933 to see less jaded eyes
watching Kong for the first time, back when his fight with a
tyrannosaurus would have been astonishing movie magic," he says. "King
Kong clearly shows its age to a modern audience, but it wears it with
pride and smiles benevolently upon those successors who have followed
in its massive footprints. Some classics should never be forgotten, and
this is one of them."
More good stuff's on the way! Check back often for updates on this pa