A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
Once upon a time, folk was thought of as a simple musical expression. Just a guy or girl strumming their guitar and singing about love, truth, and the beauty of a flower. By the mid '60s though, singer-songwriters had added electric guitars, pedal steels, and drums to the equation, blurring the lines between country, folk, and folk rock. On the contemporary scene, the rules have become even more vague. It becomes difficult to know whether folk has adopted world, reggae, and trip-hop, or in some cases, has been swallowed by it. While this may make it increasingly difficult to separate genres, the musical results can be fascinating. |
Laura Love is a case in point. She has the left-wing politics one expects from a folksinger, and Fourteen Days has plenty of acoustic guitars on it. But everything-including the acoustic guitars-is sonically charged. The instrumental arrangements include flutes, accordions, congas, fiddles, mandolin, and trombone; the vocal arrangements are complex and unpredictable. At times this music is loud, intense, and beautifully strange. This is not the type of music that you put in the disc player and forget about; this is music that requires active listening and provokes a reaction.
The album kicks off with a Love original, More of You, a funky song that may convince listeners they've just bought an R & B album by mistake. The loud acoustic guitar and heavy back beat may remind some of Ani DiFranco, but Love's songs are more melodic than the righteous babe's. Sativa covers the pros and cons of growing marijuana, complete with smooth background harmony and Latin percussion, while In Seattle recalls the excitement of the protest against the World Trade Organization (Love was present). The title track, written by Love and Mary McFaul, is an upbeat song about-of all things-getting over a relationship. There is also a nice cover of Laura Nyro's Stoned Soul Picnic.
Lyrically, Fourteen Days is solid but spare. I Am Going to Miss You is about Nyro and carries the words, "Woulda coulda shoulda Buddha that's my name/Independence Day is gonna be my game/Until something better comes along/Then I'll have to sing you my McNew McSong." Clearly something political is going on here, and it works perfectly within the song. But Love is willing to balance the lyric with the needs of the melody and accompaniment. In fact, the lyric itself should roll off the tongue and have a catchy rhyme scheme. This isn't a criticism. Just an attempt to explain that Love's lyrics are not the introspective type one would expect from John Gorka.
Fourteen Days is an exciting release, and should be just the ticket for anyone who loves sonically rich folk music. Love's voice is exquisite, and she has surrounded herself with a talented group of performers. It's nice when a singer realizes that memorable melodies go a long way when trying to deliver a message. Music, whatever genre it's in, must be enjoyable on some level, and Love's Fourteen Days is enjoyable on many.