folkZinger is Christine Lavin's 17th solo album. Continuing in the tradition of her past works, Lavin delivers 13 songs, poems, and narration commenting on contemporary society in a humorous or touching way.
Lavin takes a decidedly more political stance on this album than on any other, a result of her collaboration with songwriter Ervin Drake (Good Morning Heartache, I Believe, It Was a Very Good Year). The album opens with Drake's Armageddon, a poem about the desire of the religious right to bring about the end of the world, which was recorded with her nephews Noah and Ian Slothower. Her most pointedly critical and direct song, The Peter Principle at Work, cowritten with Drake, is about incompetence rising to the highest level of government. She also includes a live group performance of (I'm a) Card-Carrying Bleeding Heart Liberal, a song formerly only available as an internet download performed by Drake before the 2004 Presidential Election.
Winter in Manhattan is included twice. First by Lavin, then as a bonus track performed by the a capella octet The Accidentals, several of whom appeared on Lavin's 2003 holiday CD The Runaway Christmas Tree. A folk vignette about the wonderful aspects of the holidays in New York City, the song is classic Lavin and is easily the best song on the album.
Other songs include Donovan's Happiness Runs, featuring Lavin singing against herself in a round and her spoken-word interlude about once meeting Donovan on an airplane. A torchy version of The Beatles' All My Lovin' also appears on folkZinger, showing that Lavin can be an excellent interpreter of others' songs.
Chicken Soup is about trying to unsubscribe from the email subscription service "Chicken Soup of the Soul," but runs a bit long at over 9 minutes. For a broader perspective on Lavin's quirky observations on contemporary society, Moken Spoken Here, is about a tribe of nomadic people of the Andaman coastal regions of Thailand, Myanmar, and Malaysia, who get by without all our trappings of modern society.
Although folkZinger rarely reaches the heights of her earlier classic work on Philo Records, it is a big step from her recent disappointing live album (2004's Sometimes Mother Really Does Know Best"). folkZinger is not as good as her post-Philo zenith of 1997's Shining My Flashlight on the Moon, but is comparable in quality and feel to 2002's I Was in Love With a Difficult Man."
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