A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
By Scott Montgomery (firstname.lastname@example.org)
My first impression of The Puddle Jumpers' debut album, Out of the Shadows, is that these guys were paying attention during the 70s to the classic rock of that era. Their progressive folk music, tinged with Celtic, and even country, is full of homages to bygone days.
Listening to songs like "The Passion", and "Hey!", I was inspired to break out my old Boston vinyls, and give them a listen for old-times' sake. Primary songwriter Rick Vartian, who sings and plays mandolin on the album as well as myriad other instruments, writes songs that pack a punch, like the anthemic "Where are the Flowers", and "That Precious Child". Vocal duties are also shared by guitarists George Michael and David McGrath, who contribute their own works to this project; Michael with "My Old Friend Jack", and McGrath with two of my favorites, "All Too Soon" and "You". These three songs are simple, beautiful pieces. Drummer George Short rounds out the group.
Celtic overtones come through in "Troubled Road", "Best Intentions" and the title song, while "Crossing the Line", "A Younger Year", and "The Many Sides of You" follow a progressive/folk rock line, and "Savor the Moments" and "A Matter of Time" have a traditional/country feel to them. Throughout all, though, is woven classic-rock sensibility and power.
Even when dealing with dark issues like depression, "Out of the Shadows" is an uplifting CD, pointing out the silver lining on every cloud. The seamless production makes for a tightnit work that flows from song to song; there isn't a loser in the bunch. These guys know how to write classics, like the bands that inspired them.
[Editted by David Schultz]
Copyright 1996, Three Rivers Folklife Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior written permission and attribution.