Broken Bones

Kate McDonnell

by Mark Horn

A review for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange

This album is for those who have a difficult time understanding the abstract and obscure lyrics of many songwriters. Broken Bones is a delightfully accessible collection of songs that will make you weep, laugh, and most of all, feel. Kate McDonnell writes about topics so familiar; the people we are or know. Listening to her sing the songs of your life and experience is like meeting an old friend for the first time.

The stories that Kate tells are not all fun or even easy to hear. "The Last Time Robbie Called Me" is an incredibly powerful story of personal failing and how that tragedy reaches out to spread its pain. Kate also knows how to lay down a love song as witnessed by "Seeking Passage" and "Long Time." Many find it hard to believe a song called "New England Blues" sung by a middle class white girl. Once you've heard Kate belt it out you will not only believe; you'll have religion.

Kate pulls out the stops and gets things moving with "Anything That Runs," about her dog (what else?), and "Long Black Veil." A talented songwriter, McDonnell creates art from a school bus driver's story, as in "Ordinary Man," a blue collar anthem. Dewy Burns makes a haunting, almost ominous appearance on "Car Broke Down on Memory Lane." His deep gravely voice adds a unique depth to this charming piece. Near the end of the album hides a startlingly pointed story of a confederate spy, discovered and imprisoned for her offenses.

Kate McDonnell plays the guitar with the clear tones and precision of an accomplished professional. Backing her are a cadre of top notch artists including Abby Newton, Larry Packer, Stacy Phillips, and Brian Melick. Scott Petito plays bass and sings, as well as recording, mixing, and production assistance.

Broken Bones will break your heart then pick up the pieces again. This is an album that you will play repeatedly. Its range of subjects, styles, and moods maintains your interest; its consistent quality means you'll enjoy the entire album. You can order Broken Bones direct from Kate McDonnell, c/o Dog-Eared Discs, P. O. Box 4034, Woodbridge, CT 06524.

This review is copyrighted by Great Desert Northwest Music, 1995.
It may be reproduced with prior permission and attribution.

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