One Camp Street
Cambridge, MA 02140
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Dale Ott
This is a recording by an experienced singer songwriter who is not afraid to cover other people's tunes. Peter Keane wrote eight of the fourteen songs on the disk and five of the six covers are well known. The singer's first release, "The Goodnight Blues" (1991 Northeastern NR5008), was recorded in the Boston area, included some of Boston's finest sidemen and was produced by Bill Morrissey. His latest effort, "Walkin' Around", was recorded in Austin, has some of Austin's finest, and was produced by Bill Morrissey.
This disk is for those who like understated production values and clean recording. Guitar and acoustic bass frame most of the cuts with occasional support from fiddle, harmonica and drums. Keane sings all the songs with a little help from producer Morrissey on one track. Champ Hood, known for his work with Uncle Walt's Band, plays acoustic lead guitar and fiddle on a few cuts. Dave Heath plays acoustic bass on most songs. Paul Pearcy, who's played with nearly everybody in Austin, does the percussion on the four songs that have drums, and John Hagen plays cello on one song. The versatile Mr. Morrissey plays guitar, harp and even wrote a couple of verses to round out Eric Von Schmidt's "Blow Whistle Blow." The best instrumental work, however, comes from Peter's acoustic guitar. Oh sure, he snaps those bass strings on "I Know My Baby," a short little bluesy number, and there are some nice licks in "Dirty Deal Blues, " but he can also play that round fingerpickin' style that makes such good accompaniment to his vocals, whether it's on John Hurt's "If You Don't Want Me" or Farina/Marden's "Pack Up Your Sorrows. " I've seen Peter play live and I think it's a tribute to the producer to have captured the essence of his style while adding to it with the expanded possibilites of studio production . The choice of accompanying instruments, for example -cello on Dylan's "I Want You," fiddle on the two songs that have a country blues feel, and guitar alone on two songs-speaks well for the communication between artist and producer. The mix was done just as carefully, the drums always right below the guitar, the vocals strong and clear and the harp and fiddle low when providing counterpoint but loud enough during the breaks.
Keane's songwriting is diverse in lyrical content. Musically it tends toward his avowed mentors John Hurt and Dave Van Ronk. Among the songs he wrote are several of the obligatory lost/unrequited love songs and one "goin' back to..." But there's also "Poor Jessie," an account of what John Hurt and his wife might have been thinking the first time he was away from home for an extended period recording. In "I Know My Baby," Keane humorously speculates about why his lover occasionally calls him by the wrong name. And he does "Tylersville Road," a song about a straight stretch of road outside of Anytown, USA that the cops seem to neglect. Don't worry, this isn't the 50s, nobody gets killed.
All in all, this is a good recording, impeccably produced and mixed. There's not a lot of edgy stuff or pushing the envelope musically or lyrically but it's not elevator music for folkies either. A great addition to your library for those days when Ani is too much and Loreena is not enough.
Edited by Kerry Dexter