Slightly Haunted

Lynn Miles

Philo CD PH 1190

Rounder Mail Order
One Camp Street
Cambridge, MA 02140-1194

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Roberta B. Schwartz

There is nothing haunted about Lynn Miles' debut on Rounder Records' Philo label, Slightly Haunted. What there is, however, is miles of talent, poetry, and sheer emotion. The ghosts that live here come from broken love affairs, lonely bars, and not-so-distant memories. The seasons of the heart are captured by this Canadian singer/songwriter in a beautifully expressive mid-range voice that takes us from country-influenced melodies to pop ballads to a contemporary acoustic sound.

What is most striking about this recording is the way the lyrics draw you into the music and the way each song tells a story as it unfolds. You Don't Love Me Anymore describes the point when you realize that a love affair is over and captures the complicated mix of emotions that follow. Rebecca Campbell's harmony vocal is particularly compelling here. Similarly, I Always Told You the Truth presents the unraveling of a romance from the point of view of the one who is walking out the door. Ian LeFeuvre on electric guitar and Willie Bennett on harmonica lend a country sound to this tune. In fact, the virtuoso guitar work of LeFeuvre deserves particular mention and praise. Both on the electric and acoustic guitar, this man is a talent to be reckoned with. I'll be looking for his name in the liner notes of future recordings.

I Loved A Cowboy, however, is the standout cut on the recording. It is as close to a perfect song as you can get- a lovely, poetic lyric, vocals that soar into the stratosphere, and a heroic, romantic figure at the heart of the tale. A catchy melody, beautiful chorus, and great mandolin and harmonica licks take us into the late night hours of the local bar where heartache is at its worst in The Ghost of Deadlock. In Big Brown City, Miles indicates that there is some hope, even in a big, impersonal, urban landscape: "but there is a crescent moon/above a big black smokestack/and it shines like silver/all the way down the railroad tracks."

Jeffrey Lesser, who has produced the likes of Barbra Streisand, Lou Reed, and Loudon Wainwright, succeeds here again with elegant, straightforward production that wraps up Miles' sweet, supple voice and knockout lyrics in a perfect package. In her music we can hear the influence of fellow Canadian and master of the accutely honest, poetic lyric, Joni Mitchell. Lynn Miles steps into her shoes (and then some), bringing her own special blend of keen observation of both darkness and light. Slightly Haunted is a beautifully realized and executed recording and is truly an unforgettable one.

Edited by Kerry Bernard

Copyright 1998, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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