A Review for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Rick Russell
"We'll Pass Them On" is a nice collection of traditional and original songs that in the liner notes Sally says are some of the songs that got her interested in folk music. It's obvious from her treatment of these songs how much she respects this kind of music and just how deep her love for it is. Though I won't comment on every song.....there are fourteen of them, I will discuss here some of what I consider to be the high and low points of the CD.
She starts off with a nice traditional piece, "Across The Blue Mountains". I first heard this on an old album by Robin & Linda Williams, and have always liked it very much. Though the version here is somewhat different from what I was used to it was very nice. She accompanies herself on the harmonium, and I think that accounts for the different feel of this version.
The second song is a tradional French piece entitled "Le Bouvier". She does it with the French lyrics and performs it beautifully. For those people who enjoyed The McGarrigles' French Record, this is one you don't want to miss. (Not speaking French myself, I would have liked to have seen the English words printed alongside the French so that I could have appreciated the story of the song more.)
She follows it up with one of the two or three strongest songs on the CD: "Virginia's Alders", another traditional song. This song tells the story of a young man who must say goodbye to all his friends and neighbors (and the "pretty fair maiden") because he's being called across the sea. I'm a sucker for songs of regret and yearning as this one is, and it reminded me a lot of "Farewell", an unrecorded song by Bob Dylan from early in his career.
The only song on the Cd that seemed out of place on an album such as this was the old English drinking song, "Gone to the Dogs". On a Cd where all the songs were ballads, she broke the mood with this one. Rogers' updated lyrics seemed a bit strident and heavy handed. While the original words may not be politically correct in today's world, her choice for replacing them seems no improvement.
Another high point was "Black Jack Davey", another traditional song. I'd heard this song before done by others, but her tratment was different.....very beautifully done. The instrumentation was sparse and allowed her beautiful voice to shine through on the words and the story they tell.
Overall, I had some mixed feelings about this CD. Much of it was very beautiful. Her voice is suited well for traditional music such as this, and she did not overdo the instrumentation. Where the mixed feelings come in are with the choice of songs. The high points are very high. ("Black Jack Davey", "Virginia's Alder's", "Across the Blue Mountains"), but several of the other songs just don't stay with me after hearing them. I doubbt that in another month or two many of the rest of the songs will be remembered if I should see their titles.
Being an 8th grade teacher I've had to develop a grading system that takes into account work that is beautifully done, but yet doesn't entirly appeal to me. The top grade gives my opinion on how well the music was performed.....voice quality, musicianship, and productionThe bottom grade reflects my enjoyment of the CD as a whole. For Sally Roger's "We'll Pass Them On", I give her a grade of A- over B-.