A Review for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark Horn
When I first saw Jeff at the Folk Alliance conference in Portland, he blew me away. I had casually passed up a chance to see him perform locally at a coffeehouse six months earlier. Be assured, I will not make that mistake again.
Talking over some beer after his Folk Alliance showcase, Jeff told me that this album was a real labor of love taking him more than eighteen months to produce. When an artist says something like that it frequently means he is trying to produce the album on the cheap, so I braced for the worst. The production on Fast Delivery is flawless. This album has the sound, arrangements, and musicianship of a release from a large folk label like Philo or Red House Records. Knoch's voice, which is reminiscent of James Taylor and David Wilcox, is captivating and clear.
The title cut, Fast Delivery, is a poignant story about those whose hold on life is very fragile. Inspired by a sign in a St. Paul, MN liquor store, it reminds us that hope is the most precious medicine. Several other cuts explore desperate and damaged souls, always with compassion and empathy.
Though a master of compelling ballads, it is not all gloom and doom. Scattered throughout the album are the foot prints of running jumping children. Knoch seems to have been given a second set of child's eyes; something we could all wish for ourselves.
Possibly the most lasting songs on this album will be the small quiet songs. Under a Tree, is the tree hugger song I've been waiting to hear for years. It is a gentle story rather than a stilted or heavy- handed anthem. Greenpeace take note. This is the way to reach people with an environmental message. If you're looking for one of those songs that will turn your heart to mush, I'd like to recommend Fiddler's Green; a memorable tear-jerker, indeed.
To receive the highly recommended Fast Delivery of this warm and captivating album, write Under A Tree Music, PO Box 6921, Seattle, WA 98168.
This review is copyrighted, 1995 by Three Rivers Folklife Society.
It may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.