by Moshe Benarroch
The first surprise on this new CD by Shindell is that it's recorded in a live setting with a full band of 5-8 musicians, and not the usual vocal-guitar singer-songwriter's live CD. It's backed by a full rock band, with Denny Mcdermott on percussion, John Putman on electric guitar, Lincoln Sheffer on bass, and the great Lucy Kaplansky on vocals. Guests on some tracks are Greg Anderson on bouzouki, Lisa Gutkin and Larry Campbell on violin, and Rad Lorcovic on accordion.
Shindell has moved with his wife to Argentina and for those, like me, who are waiting to hear what kind of songs this move has brought to his songwriting, this will be a disappointment. None of the 15 songs on the CD are new songs that he has written and not yet recorded. All of the songs appear on his four previous CD's, except for two covers: Willin by Lowell George, and 4th of July, Asbury Park by Bruce Springsteen.
This is a very enjoyable CD, but I found none of the versions here are better than the studio ones he released on his previous recordings. His two covers, Willin and 4th of July, Asbury Park are good covers, but they don't add anything to the originals. Again, the word I would use is: enjoyable. The sound, in spite of the big band, is very acoustic, and Shindell's voice is always up front.
Shindell is one of the best singer-songwriters from the big crowd of songwriters who started recording in the 90's. His previous CD, Somewhere Near Paterson (see my review on this site), and his debut CD are real masterpieces that would make it to many top ten folk music lists of the 90's.
Courier has 15 tracks and a playing time of 72 minutes. This recording is a good introduction to those who come to Shindell for the first time. I, personally, would have preferred a new CD with 12 new songs by one of the best pens this side of folk music.