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Laurie MacAllister - The Things I Choose to Do

The Things I Choose to Do

Laurie MacAllister

Available from Barnes & Noble.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Roberta B. Schwartz
(rschwart@bowdoin.edu)

Laurie MacAllister is one of those singers songwriters dream of covering their songs. She goes deep down to the core of a tune and embodies it. Her voice has a richness, range and pureness that sets her apart from her contemporaries. And best of all, like Patsy Cline, she's got a catch in her voice that hooks you every time.

It's the perfect voice and the perfect sound for an album of covers. But these are no ordinary covers and no ordinary production. Cliff Eberhardt, one of a handful of contemporary singer/songwriters crafting timeless, classic songs, produced MacAllister's The Things I Choose to Do. Each song is framed by a superb arrangement and supported by some of the best players around: Seth Farber on piano and keyboards, Jim Henry on guitar and mandolin, Mark Erelli on harmonica and backing vocals, Gideon Freudmann on cello, Liz Queler on harmony vocals and Cliff Eberhardt on guitar, dobro, harmonica and keyboards.

It is difficult to single out a few cuts as every one is memorable — each a jewel in a beautifully executed setting. These are songs by some of our best songwriters including Lynn Miles, Cliff Eberhardt, Dolly Parton, Irving Berlin, Leonard Cohen and Lennon/McCartney.

Lynn Miles absolutely owns each and every song she writes, and sings them in a voice that breaks and aches better than anyone I know. Having said that, MacAllister takes a classic Miles song, Nobody's Angel, and sings the heck out of it. She's so good, in fact, that when her voice breaks, you forget that it's Miles's song that she's singing. MacAllister owns it.

I love the haunting, riveting Me and My Michael, written by Jimmy Bruno. It was recorded by Shawn Colvin over twenty-five years ago, but somehow became lost and forgotten over time. MacAllister breathes new life and beauty into the song making it truly unforgettable.

The recording works so well because of the winning combination of Cliff Eberhardt's production and the absolute pureness and beauty of MacAllister's voice. It has Eberhardt's mastery all over it - from the quality of the backing musicians and the arrangements, to the framing of MacAllister's vocals. And Eberhardt's distinctive guitar is heard throughout the recording.

I would love to hear more from Laurie MacAllister. I am enchanted by her vocal gifts, particularly the way she gets genuine emotion and feelings across to the listener. She makes you feel like you are experiencing the song with her. She's a rare find and a talent to watch.

Track List:

  • Coal Tattoo (Billy Edd Wheeler)
  • Nobody's Angel (Lynn Miles)
  • Memories of You (Cliff Eberhardt)
  • I Can't Sleep (Steve Goodman)
  • What'll I Do? (Irving Berlin)
  • Me and My Michael (Jim Bruno)
  • I'm Only Sleeping (John Lennon/Paul McCartney)
  • Famous Blue Raincoat (Leonard Cohen)
  • This Falling in Love (Jim Bruno)
  • Where Goes My Love? (Eric Andersen)
  • Jolene (Dolly Parton)
  • Baton Rouge (Cliff Eberhardt)

Edited by: David N. Pyles
(dnpyles@acousticmusic.com)

Copyright 2006, Peterborough Folk Music Society and Roberta B. Schwartz.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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