Can You Read This Boston?
Various ArtistsBGR 0001
Big Girl Records
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
Two years ago, former writing and reading teacher Rosie Cohen decided that she wanted to work in the world of music. Since then, she has worked towards forming her own label, Big Girl Records. The fruits of her labor have yielded, Can You Read This Boston?, the label's first release. Rosie Cohen didn't cut all her ties with the world of teaching, however, and that is why a portion of the proceeds from every release will be donated to a literary organization. In this case, $2.50 from each CD will go to the Boston Adult Literacy Fund's Scholarship Program which helps adults to learn to read and write.
This record is more proof that Boston seems to attract a lot of musical talent; less than half of the artists featured here originate from the Boston area. In order to come up with memorable names and tunes again and again this area certainly has to have a very competitive and inspiring music scene.
Mark Erelli, who has a record deal with Signature Sounds, is the most prominent name here. Although I like his Hollow Man quite a bit, I think there are a few songs that beat him for best performance here. There's Forgiven by The Beloved Tune, a catchy pop song with summer hit potential; Kyler's intimate and charming These Four Walls; Nate Borofsky's engaging and short-story like Beautiful Boy; Pamela Means' angry and powerful Truth; Kristin Cifelli's All The Way Down about growing up and becoming a personality in one's own right, tinged with sadness and knowledge; and Kris Delmhorst's beautiful and optimistic tune, Open Road, a tale about a friend leaving for a new life, a topic that probably is very familiar to most of us.
Most tracks are either pop or folk related, but there are also occasional flirts with blues and rock. Some of the music was taken from live concerts, and this adds spontaneity and variety to this collection.
The final words on this album belong to Young Charles Cox, a graduate of one of the programs that is supported by the Boston Adult Literacy Fund. Cox who is blessed with a deep, resonating voice, recites a gorgeous poem by Langston Hughes, one of the pre-eminent black poets of the United States.
Also worth mentioning is the CD booklet, which is the most informative one I've seen in months. I'd be more than just happy if all the booklets out there carried only half of the information gathered here.
This clever collection brings together music and literature, showing that these two fields have more in common than one normally cares to think about. This CD is obviously a work of love and if the future releases from Big Girl Records keep this standard, then the label should have a bright future.
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Edited by Paula Gregorowicz