3 July 2010
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 13,000 reviews, interviews and
other bits of excitement.) See you there!
� � � MUSIC
Lewis MacKinnon takes a Gaelic perspective for A Seo (Here).
"MacKinnon has an expressive and beautiful voice and a great feeling
for rhythm and harmony," Adolf Goriup says.
"The album is a real revelation for me. I've never heard such
beautiful male singing before and the musical arrangements are perfect."
Annie Dinerman has some Broken Cookies to share. "Dinerman is a singer-
songwriter with a sense of humor. She reminds me a lot of a next-
generation Christine Lavin with a bit stronger language. In these
dozen songs, she tackles love, friendship and outer-space politics
with equanimity," Becky Kyle remarks.
"Dinerman's voice is pleasant. She's occasionally overwhelmed by
orchestration, but the whole effort just leaves you with a smile. If
you enjoy Lavin's music, this is another artist you will want to check
Cheryl Wheeler is Pointing at the Sun with this new release. "Pointing
at the Sun is Cheryl Wheeler's 10th album and, if you haven't caught
up with her yet, you've certainly heard her songs, which have been
recorded by such artists as Dan Seals, Kathie Mattea, Susie Bogguss,
Garth Brooks, Peter, Paul & Mary, Melanie and Bette Midler. She is one
of the premier singer-songwriters of our time, as well as one of the
funniest," says Michael Scott Cain.
"Pointing at the Sun finds Wheeler in a contented mood, happy and
satisfied with where her life is now, as opposed to the searching and
yearning person who dominated some of her earlier albums."
Chris Bramble is ready to Laugh at the Wind. "Laugh at the Wind is
good collection of self-penned works that offer a perfect showcase of
the talents of Chris Bramble," Nicky Rossiter says.
"Bramble has a promising future provided the music and lyrics get
Donna Ulisse takes a dip in Holy Waters. "Like its predecessors, Holy
Waters is on the contemporary side of the bluegrass divide. Even so,
it's the most traditional in feeling and, in addition, the warmest and
most readily accessible," Jerome Clark says.
"If her own compositions lack the for-the-ages aura of the canon's
sacred anthems, they're solidly crafted and more than capably
performed. Ulisse has a crystalline sort of voice, the very sound of
which gratifies the ear even when it is not focused specifically on
word and message. It isn't always the sort of bluegrass singing one
would anticipate from a more hard-core practitioner of the music in
its more specifically Appalachian definition. I wonder, though, if
it's heading that way."
� � � INTERVIEW
Travis Caudle, an Australian singer-songwriter, is on the road again
-- and that's just where he like to be.
"When you get home and have a couple of months there, it starts to
feel weird. You actually feel more normal when you're out in the car,"
he said in a recent interview with Tom Knapp. "And, whether you have a
good gig or a bad gig, when you keep moving you can start fresh the
� � � FICTION
John Wrieden blends science and magic in The Souls of the Fire Dragon.
"The main strength of this book is the premise, which creatively
combines several interesting facets: alternate realities, magic versus
technology, overthrowing a corrupt government and the interactions
between humans and dragons. It also has several interesting
characters, namely Akea and the dragon. But, is that enough to make it
good? Sadly, no," Chris McCallister says.
"What hurts the book? The pace is quite uneven, with episodes of rapid
action, but far too many lulls laden with unnecessary details. It was
hard to stay awake at times."
L.A. Meyer revisits the life and times of Jacky Faber in the Rapture
of the Deep. "Rapture of the Deep proves to be yet another
irresistable chapter in Jacky's charmed and exciting life," Tom Knapp
reports. "The adventure takes Jacky into the company of pirates and
gamblers, Spanish dons and alligators, even as the science of
underwater exploration and salvage makes a tremendous leap forward."
However, he warns, some readers might have a problem with the novel's
enthusiastic take on vicious cock-fighting and the introduction of a
culturally insensitive character, the plump slave Aunt Jemimah.
Kevin Brockmeier presents The Brief History of the Dead. "One of the
few comforts we can draw on when facing up to our own mortality is the
fact that we will live on in the memories of those we leave behind.
Kevin Brockmeier takes this sentiment and envisions a world in which
it is literally true. As such, The Brief History of the Dead makes for
a unique take on the idea of life and death, as well as a poignant
testimony to the power of memory," Daniel Jolley states.
"It's a fascinating novel, but the conclusion may prove a little
disappointing to some, for one could say that it ends with a whimper
rather than a bang. As a reader, one cannot help but want more than
Brockmeier gives us in the end, but I find it hard to criticize a book
or its author on those terms. No matter what you think of the
conclusion, The Brief History of the Dead is a poignant literary
journey offering readers a unique perspective on some of the deepest
questions of life and death."
� � � GRAPHIC NOVELS
Tom Knapp is taken aback by the turn taken near the end of Empowered
5. "I was already writing the review in my head. Empowered 5 was more
of the same in this charming, sexy series from Adam Warren. The title
character, a superhero in a skin-tight supersuit with a penchant for
revealing tears in her costume, is an endearing young woman who has a
kind heart and great intentions, but blunders just enough to spend
much of her time a captive of various supervillains," Tom says.
"But Warren's winning formula gets tired with overuse, and this book
seemed at first to be little more than a retread of similar material
in the past. ... And then the final sequence took things in a whole
new direction. Things exploded, people died. And this was no longer
the same old Empowered."
Iron Man is a big commodity these days, but that doesn't mean
everything with the Marvel hero's name attacked is worth its weight in
gold. "Although not collected until 2007, when the prospect of the
first Iron Man movie had the marketing department at Marvel Comics
slavering over the prospect of additional book-sale profits, Armor
Wars is definitely entrenched in the 1980s," Tom says.
"Set up to be an epic tale, Armor Wars falls short. For one thing,
there's little here beyond a series of iron-on-iron fights that Iron
Man ultimately -- and often very easily -- wins. It grows tiresome
� � � MOVIES
Mary Harvey likes the vampire turn she finds in Thirst. "Thirst is an
extravaganza of terrific moments and scenes that range from gruesome
and disturbing to pitch-black comedy, all combined with cinematography
so stunning that it is visual poetry. Blazing sunsets, a room painted
white for the specific purpose of emphasizing all the blood that will
soon be flowing over the stark white floors, dark and dull moments
that lull the viewer into false complacency, followed by scenes of
graphic violence. Multiple genres are combined to create an unsettling
sequence of events that does become sluggish in the middle, in part
because of the director's tendency to cut across and utilize so many
formats, creating a sort of chaotic, numbing excess," Mary says.
"Thirst accomplishes so much, on so many levels, that it's hard to be
too negative about the slower bits. If you can hang in there during
the down part, you'll be rewarded with an ending that is truly worth
all the trouble."
Daniel Jolley casts a little light on Days of Darkness. "Well, it's
different -- you have to give Days of Darknessthat much. The zombies
on display here may look like your basic stereotypical zombies, but
they aren't -- just trust me on that. These zombies aren't going to
scare anybody, but they're more than capable of eliciting a few 'yuck'
reactions from viewers -- and that turns out to be the film's saving
grace," Dan says.
"I have to subtract some points for all of the 'this movie sucks'
moments early on, but I have to admit that I actually sort of enjoyed
the overall experience."
You think we're done? Ha!! Come back for more next week.
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