Miles and Means

Chris And Johnny

A review for Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange

Before I tell you about this wonderful album from Montana I'd like to introduce myself. I'm Robb Worthington a musician from Seattle. Mark Horn of Three Rivers Folklife Society asked me to review albums for him and you good people on the Exchange. I'm more than happy to and would welcome any comments about my musings privately at Drumgoat@aol.com. And now back to business.

On first listen the album stopped me in my tracks. I thought I had put on an Indigo Girls cut. Chris and Johnny have beautiful voices that in AFTER DARK are arranged and phrased harmonically very much like Amy and Emily's style. Couple this with the usual folk/rock instrumentation and there is a striking resemblance. This is meant as a compliment. The production values are generally quite high which helps to take the perception of quality to a level comparable to the Indigo Girls. But enough about those gals, I'd rather listen to 'Miles and Means' any day.

SCHOOLBUS, my favorite song on the album is a tune powerfully evocative of an easy going summer attitude. Steve Jennings brushwork is perfect in its balance of drive and laid back expression. This song takes me away almost instantly in the way that early John Denver used to. The lyric content covers a range from the wishful musings of an adult about the simplicities of childhood realities to the casual observations of a present day relationship. This within the context of being pleased to be taking it easy even if only for as long as it takes to be stuck behind a school bus.

PARALLEL LIVES is as lovely a folk ballad as you'll ever hear. Elegant in its simplicity, it's an expression of love and an acceptance of a long distance relationship. This could have been a complaint but is instead a bittersweet celebration. This song will resonate strongly with the traveling performer as well as those waiting at home.

MOUNTAINS RISE UP, subtle in its contrasting of the inner and outer landscape in the lyric, here the guys excellently contrast their respective voices, a baritone and tenor, with the fine cello playing of Heidi Nagel. These three timbres weave together over a bed of rich and varied percussion by Marc Anderson and fretless bottom end by Brian Roessler. This one gets top honors for arrangement with me. The choice of accompanist on this album is perfect for the material. The aforementioned artists also include Julie Crumrine, Eric Fawcett, Dan Neale, and Matt Zimmerman. Those are my favorites.

The album also includes;

Chris and Johnny have crafted an album that has a wonderful effect on the listener. This album evokes time and place, an inspiration to write, and best of all calming and settling the spirit during hectic and frightening times. Moreover, the artists have escaped the trap of self absorbed inner reflection that all too often turns to a lamentable negativity of expression. Again I'll refer to the Indigo Girls. I found them interesting at first but soon grew tired of the angst. 'Miles and Means' covers diffic ult territory without sinking that low. It's refreshing to hear from two white males who aren't constantly angry. Thank you gentlemen.

This review is copyrighted by Three Rivers Folklife Society, 1995.
It may be reproduced with prior permission and attribution.

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