Outside Eden

Kat Eggleston


Waterbug Records
P.O. Box 6605
Evanston, IL 60204

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Rona Edwards

When I listen to Kat Eggleston I am always entertained by her easy way of conveying thoughts and ideas. Her guitar playing is crisp and clean and her voice is sweet and clear. I became a fan when I heard her 1994 CD Second Nature, although I've never seen her perform live. Kat's latest, Outside Eden, is a great follow up to that album. This is not an overproduced album as it has just the essentials: drums and percussion, violin, guitar/mandolin, bass, hammered dulcimer and Kat's inimitable voice. Produced by Eggleston and Steve Rashid, the album conveys many emotions amidst crystal clear production. It's immaculate!

Eggleston's style is comparable to a modern day English minstrel. There's a lilt of the British Isles in her voice, but the songs convey contemporary womanly human emotions. Her lyrics are pictoral while her melodies are deliberate, but her voice is the masterpiece, a calm lake gliding through the sounds of each song. I can see her on those country roads going from town to town with her guitar on her back bringing her music to the hungry villages who yearn for good storytelling.

Beginning with the opener Go to The Water, she speaks to us of living life on the edge, taking chances:

Go to the water, walk down slow
Where the rock is battered and the branch hangs low
Where the sea is rough, the sun burns hotter
To know love, go to the water.

BRIAN is a poignant song of farewell to a friend who died a long time ago, whom she dreamed about and can finally say goodbye to properly:

He floated like a paper doll, with hardly any weight
But still I recognized him, Brian is always twenty-eight
And I could no more touch him than I could a ray of light
But I finally got to say goodbye to Brian last night.

My favorite song on the album is Mirror, Mirror. It's a self-described song of obsession. The melody haunted me and I found myself obsessed, playing this song over and over. The violin is so wrenching and soulful, it adds just enough to the obsession. It cuts right to the core as we've all been there, we've all felt these feelings.

I have a little mirror - my mirror has a name.
Every time I shatter my mirror is ashamed.
So I lie in pieces - see the pieces shine
A hundred little faces None of them is mine

Lest you think the album is loaded with soft, sweet folk songs, we come upon Shit. Yes, that's the title. A fun ditty complains of "too much shit in my purse" and is an analogy for our cluttered lives. This one is a lot of fun and would make Tom Paxton proud!

Matches, Rolaids, one earring, Rolls of quarters, Dramamine
I'm prepared for anything, The best, and the worst.
Some guy once tried a sneak attack
He grabbed my arm, but I fought back
Aimed for his head, and knocked him flat
Too much Shit in my purse.

Kat does well on traditional kinds of material such as the Flower of Northumberland and Woody Guthrie's Pastures of Plenty/Kitchen Girl. Both carry a Celtic sensibility to them and the violin gets an old-fashioned workout in the latter.

Again, Again! is an apt closer to the album. Written by Jano Brindisi, Kat is accompanied by guitar only on this thoughtful prose about time passing, a particular memory, and a moment that someone else may come upon and share once again. It's a simple song which speaks mountains about the cyclical world we live in and the timelessness we experience if we take the time to experience it.

I saw a flower, it was beauty full
I took it home and put it on this page
Someday when someone opens to this place It will blow away

I love the way Eggleston paints pictures and tells stories filled with love, obsession, humor and poignancy. She's easy to listen to, but don't be fooled. I may have given you the impression that this is a simple, no-frills album, and that would be wrong! Her artistry and pure talents shine through the vinyl. If you listen closely, you will hear the complexities in her guitar playing and vocals even though it seems effortless You won't be disappointed with Outside Eden.

Edited by Paula Gregorowicz

Copyright 1997, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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