6 December 2008
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 12,000 reviews, interviews and
other bits of excitement.) See you there!
First up today, Lorie Line is back with another holiday selection,
titled Sharing the Season, Vol. 2: Piano Instrumentals. "Combining
familiar songs with the not-so, she is accompanied here by a few
musicians that lend a varied touch to the keyboard-based
instrumentation," Corinne Smith says. "This will always be my favorite
Lorie Line album, because it was the first one I ever owned -- at
first, on cassette. I now have two CD copies, one for the house and
one for the car. This music is the perfect accompaniment to decorating
the tree, looking out the window at a light-snowfall day, or driving
to Grandma's house for the feast disguised as dinner."
Celtic Woman is on The Greatest Journey in music, Nicky Rossiter says.
"Here are the female superheroes of Celtic music -- Lisa, Chloe,
Mairead, Alex, Orla and Lynne, along with some of the top professional
musicians available on these shores -- with a gem of an album," he
insists. "The ladies of Celtic Woman achieve the almost impossible in
taking on Enya's 'Orinoco Flow,' probably one of the tracks most tied
to the original performer, and giving it a new life."
Linda Welby has A Story to Tell. "From the opening track, 'The Galway
Fiddler,' Linda Welby sets a scene and continues through the other 11
tracks on A Story to Tell -- the vocal offerings in particular -- to
recount stories, just as the album title suggests," Nicky says. "The
singer/songwriter lists her influences ranging from Sean Keane to Pat
Boone, and her output on this album certainly gives evidence of this.
She is not corralled into a particular genre and as such will appeal
to a very wide audience. In addition many of the songs have the
strength to become hits for some more established artists."
Joanna Newsom misses her mark with The Milk-Eyed Mender. "The subject
matter: ballads, startling metaphors and mythological allusions. The
instrumentation: harp, piano and harpsichord.The Milk-Eyed Mender is
defiantly unclassifiable and hyperbolically artsy," says Jennifer Mo.
"This one's right up the alley of the serious music fan in your life.
You know the type -- the more avant-garde-than-thou person who sneers
at anything that isn't atonal, obscure, indie and impossible to like
on first listen."
Rachel Harrington finds a City of Refuge for her listeners.
"Understated and precise, City of Refuge casts an almost hypnotic
spell in its finest moments, and there are many of them," Jerome Clark
remarks. "With her band, whose membership includes Tim O'Brien on
fiddle and regular accompanist Zak Borden on mandolin and guitar,
Harrington fashions gorgeous, spiraling melodies topped by lyrics of
startling originality and power."
Peter Verity offers the "perfect soundtrack for anyone interested in
contemporary Canadian folk music" on Sometimes a Journey, Corinne
Smith says. "True to the CD title, Verity takes us on a circuitous
musical journey around the North America continent, via his voice and
his guitar. A small band of musicians provides background
instrumentation and vocals."
Justin Roth is ready and willing to Shine. "The silver voice of Justin
Roth is just as provocative as his guitar accompaniment. His poetic
song lyrics combined with the finesse of his guitar picking add up to
a successful CD," Virginia MacIsaac says. "With eight very decent
songs and two captivating instrumentals, I'd recommend Shine as a sure
addition to the shelves of those who like modern folk served up with
velvety vocals, incredible guitar structures and atypical but
Virginia MacIsaac continues our Celtic Colours coverage with Common
Ground: Carlos Nunez' Celtic Journey in Port Hawkesbury. "Host Nunez,
a musician from Galicia, was here for the fourth year to participate
in the festival, and his energetic presence continued to impress," she
says. "Dressed in stark white while performing against the black
Celtic Colours' backdrop, he reflected the music emanating from all
areas of the stage and orchestrated its flow to the audience with
rhythmic body movements, even while he wasn't playing." Other
performers included the Blue Engine String Quartet, J.P. Cormier,
Annie Ebrel, Gaiteros de La Habana, Corrina Hewat, Jerry Holland and
Paul Headrick digs into the merits of Bing vs. Frank in That Tune
Clutches My Heart. "That Tune Clutches My Heart is an entertaining
book that will leave readers contemplating their own musical choices
and reminiscing about their own teenage years. It is a perfect
offering for a book discussion group or for use in high school or
college English classes," Corinne Smith says. "Author Paul Headrick
leaves us with loose ends and much food for thought."
Jonathan Carroll bears the heart and soul of The Ghost in Love. "The
book involves swift, often unexpected trips into the past, picnics
with one's selves, flashbacks, introspections, negotiations,
conversations with splintered character flaws, hiding in a closet,
vivid memories, a perfect date at a fancy Chinese restaurant, zouk,
burnt marshmallows, theological evolutions and a painted rock," Tom
Knapp says. "It's a love story, a ghost story, a philosophical yarn
and a cautionary tale. And that's not even the half of it."
Holly Lisle shows a little Sympathy for the Devil in this outing. "It
addresses a serious subject, but it's also one of the funniest and
flat-out best novels from author Holly Lisle," Becky Kyle remarks.
"Just pick up the book and read the first page. If you're not laughing
out loud enough to embarrass yourself, thenSympathy for the Devil is
not the book for you."
Peter Ackroyd "is an undisputed expert on London and a number of its
literary inhabitants. He has written prolifically on subjects ranging
from transvestism in Dressing Up to Notes on New Culture with
biography, brief lives and many fine fiction titles added," says Nicky
Rossiter. The Lambs of London "is one of those fiction titles. ...
Writing a novel based on real events is a blessing and a curse. The
bones of the narrative are already in place, but woe betide any who
deviates too much from known fact. However, Ackroyd is so steeped in
the history and lore of London that there was little chance he might
stray from the facts. In fact, he knows the city and its past so well
he manages to transport the reader to a very real and vivid
streetscape. This novel evokes a London that disappeared centuries ago."
Ian McEwan has The Daydreamer to share. "This is a light-hearted set
of linked stories about a boy, Peter, between the ages of 10 and 12,
who is a chronic daydreamer. Sometimes, this results in big problems,
and sometimes it results in ... knowledge and understanding," Chris
McCallister says. "At first glance, I wondered if this were a
children's book, and it could be used that way. I can imagine parents,
or grandparents or aunts or uncles, reading this book along with
children, ages 4 through 10, but I think it is mainly to help remind
adults of the power of imagination, including the potential for growth
and for damage."
Many comic-book heroes "have spent decades forgotten on a dusty shelf
for good reason. Some are silly concepts, others wear ludicrous
costumes, and most don't have the wherewithal to make it in the 21st
century," Tom Knapp says. "Of this, writer J. Michael Straczynski
seems well aware. And yet, he unearthed a dozen risable heroes from
the World War II era -- and made it work." Read Tom's review ofThe
Twelve to learn more.
Zorro makes a triumphant entrance in The Lady Wears Red. "This
collection, published in 1998 by Image Comics, reprints a trilogy of
comics first printed earlier that decade by Topps. It is satisfyingly
brimming with clever whip and rapier work, verbal ripostes and
swashbucklery of the Old West variety," Tom says. "The action is
thrilling and the dialogue is even better. This is a crisp, fun story
that deserves to come back into print, and soon. The only problem in
this case is that, despite the fine artwork by Mike Mayhew, the book
would only improve with color."
Mark Allen rounds out today's trio with Zinc Alloy collections Super
Zero and Revealed. "As a parent, I want my children to enjoy reading.
As a comics fan, I want more young readers drawn to the hobby. Zinc
Alloy could help on both counts," Mark says. "Author Donald Lemke has
created a character in Zack Allen to which most young children will be
able to relate. He has also produced a story that is brimming with
action, humor and the potential for great learning."
Mary O'Brien is Dicing with the Tide in her new book of poems. "There
is a saying that to meet a global audience, you are best to write
about local subjects -- because in the end, everything is local,"
Nicky Rossiter says. "In this slim volume of poetry, Mary O'Brien
concentrates on town and parish, and in so doing she will strike
chords in hearts from her chosen Wexford to Sydney to Santa Fe and to
Moscow -- anywhere people who enjoy words and feelings read the poems."
Roger Osborne examines the history of Civilisation for the education
of all. "Osborne has done the almost impossible. He has managed to
condense the history of the West into just under 500 pages without
missing a single important epoch, incident or person. Indeed, not only
has he tabulated the history, he gives some excellent, concise and
erudite interpretations of events that will make reader consider
points previously overlooked," Nicky says. "The book is sweeping in
scope, microscopic in examination and a joy to read. It treats so many
epochs of history with new evidence that we can discard some of our
Also in time for the holidays, Alicia Karen Elkins offers up this
Christmas Present. "Christmas Present is in many ways the Irish
version of Christmas Vacation -- and it's a perfect example of a movie
that does everything right!" she exclaims. "Christmas Present is a
splendid choice for any time of the year. I would love to see a series
of sequels so I could spend more time with this family. It is the next
best thing to being home with my own folks."
Miles O'Dometer descends into a London subculture in Eastern Promises.
"Eastern Promises is a brutal tale, an endless stream of bloody
killings that, had you missed the beginning, might have fooled you
into thinking you'd walked in on a slasher film," he warns. "What
distinguishes Eastern Promisesfrom such fare, however, is an
intelligent script that offers viewers an insight into a very real
world most have never heard of or know little about. ... Stuff like
this doesn't come along very often. Make a note of it."
Jen Kopf, meanwhile, dips into the life of New York Dolls bassist
Arthur 'Killer' Kane via the aptly titled New York Doll. This
documentary of his life could have become a second-rate VH1: Behind
the Music episode, Jen says. "Instead, it's one of the most
bittersweet, inspiring movies you'll see this year. And the
soundtrack? It rocks. ... The concert footage will blow you away."
You think we're done? Hardly!! Come back for more next week.
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