One More River
Red House Records
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange by
Some people might consider this a children's album, possibly because the songs don't offer a whining social commentary or deal with issues as heavy-handed as murder and adultery. Kids will certainly enjoy it, but you don't have to be a kid to thoroughly appreciate these pure and simple traditional folk songs. Bill Staines renders the songs in a manner as gentle as he might use to sing to a beloved youngster and they're exactly the kind of songs you'd want to hear when you're not in the mood to dwell on the woes of the world.
One More River is like the music played at a gathering of friends. Staines, himself, is joined by friends on the several tunes- some bring instruments, others bring just their voice. Each song has a different flavor (though they all feature Staines' honey-mellow voice)- for instance, there is a penny whistle on one track (which I enjoyed, as most folkies would) but Staines turns around and features a saxophone on another cut. There is also electric guitar to compliment the acoustic, but it is smooth and relaxing, rather than harsh and driving. In essence, there is a lot of variety and the variety works.
The songs themselves range from merry to majestic. Staines' rendition of The Ash Grove waltzes gracefully through the lovely lyrics, inducing feelings of serenity and peace. In So Sang the River, written by Staines, nearly a dozen of America's rivers tell us their stories. I enjoyed this one very much, having become an appreciator of rivers since I settled on the bank of the Columbia (the Columbia River is not included in the song, but I'll forgive the oversight because of the ample tribute Woody Guthrie paid it).
Another notable song on the album is A Song of Peace - the lyrics speak of the love of one's homeland but also of the realization that others love their own homes best. This is an excellent counterpoint to the intensely nationalistic mood of Finlandia (Sibelius), to whose music the lyrics are set.
Overall, the strength and variety of this album is what will make it appeal to children and adults, alike. As I said, no whining social commentary, no murder, no adultery- just an enjoyable album of (mostly) traditional folk songs, well-rendered by a talented and versatile musician.
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Edited by Kerry Bernard