A review for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
Reviewed by Janet Humphrey
Folk music with soul! Betty Elders, singer-songwriter, has packed this 60 minute album chock-full of new and original tunes. Her singing is reminiscent of early Rickie Lee Jones with some Texas back-porch harmony thrown in for good measure.
Musically the album is extremely diverse; from the South of the border sounding opener "The Long Night" to the wistful, Gaelic lilt of "My Fathers Home." The title track, "Crayons," is a powerful, if gentle, lesson in social tolerance comparing the multiple colors in a box of crayons to the diversity of life.... "It's not the color of your skin, not who's out but who's within..." This refrain is reinforced by a chorus of young, talented voices with ms. Elders vocals woven through in harmony.
The album is cleanly produced and the mix is exceptionally clear and crisp. Harmonies are plentiful and restrained. The instrumental work is solid and the finger-picked, high strung guitar used on several cuts punches up the accompaniments. Of particular note is the masterful playing of Gene Elders, who provides superb violin and octave violin support on several cuts. Other instrumentation includes mandolin, 12 string guitar, tin whistle, piano, slide guitar, bass, assorted percussion and an African Talking drum.
A interesting diversion on this album and my favorite cut is "Just to Have You Hum Along (The Futon Song)". This is the quintessential road song and the mark of a musician who's traveled more miles than should be mentioned in polite company. It sounds of the road, toe tapping, wheels turning and of longing for an old friend and a decent bed - no futons - thanks just the same.
Crayons is a solid, good body of work that improves with repeated listening.