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Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer - Seven is the Number

Seven is the Number

Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer

TGM 060719

Tracy Grammer Music
P.O. Box 2125
Amherst, MA 01004

Available from Tracy Grammer's web site.

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

Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer were at the height of their powers and popularity when Dave died suddenly of a heart attack in 2002. The acoustic music community was stunned. Dave was revered as a songwriter's songwriter. And the outpouring of love and sympathy that followed Dave's death was a tribute to the kind of man he was.

As with all great duos, there is always the one who is left behind. And fortunately for us, that person is Tracy Grammer, master of all things string: guitar, violin and mandolin. At the time of Dave's death, Carter and Grammer were working on a new project and had several tracks in the bag. According to the liner notes, the tracks were recorded between December 26, 2001 and January 2, 2002 in Tracy's kitchen. Additional recording, mixing and mastering by Tracy and Mark Frethem resulted in the last recording by Carter and Grammer, Seven is the Number.

It is clear right from the get-go that Dave Carter was one heck of a songwriter. Seven is the Number is a stunner both musically and lyrically. The music grabs you right from the start in a wonderful mix of traditional folk and contemporary pop. And the lyrics are pure poetry:
How will I find her in the trackless night?
Seven is the number of a man
Follow the dipper to the mornin light
Seven is the number of a man

Red (Elegy) is a deeply poetic, complex tune. The chorus tells us:
She is the daughter of a Joshua tree
Longtime losers and o.g. wannabes
Mama's in the corn and the fields are fallow
Soul needs savin' but I'm too damned shallow

Tracy lends gorgeous harmony vocals to Dave's lead, as well as a lovely violin, which takes over on the musical bridge.

Hey Tonya tells a story which lies somewhere between a fairy tale and a fable. Tracy adds a bit of fairy dust with her trailing, accompanying vocal. The lyrics, once again, pull you in as you let go and become swept away in the tale of Jack and Tonya.

There's a song here called Workin for Jesus which is a perfect gem of a tune. It tells the story of a young woman who finds her transcendent spirit in the work she does spreading the words of the gospel. There is a sense of purity in the lyrics, in the aching beauty of Tracy's violin, and in the quiet straightforwardness of Dave's fine tenor.

But I think they saved the prettiest tune for last—Sarah Turn 'Round. The Sarah here appears to be a young girl on the verge of womanhood, with the whole world - a wide open future - ahead of her. Tracy adds a sparkling bit of mandolin to the song while Dave sings with a sweetness and sincerity that is touching. This one is truly memorable.

It is sad to think, and definitely to know, that there will be no new Dave Carter songs. But at the same time, it is a wonderful treat to have this final recording of Dave and Tracy literally making beautiful music together. It's a marvelous legacy for Tracy Grammer to take forward into the future.

Track List:

  • Seven is the Number
  • Snake-Handlin Man
  • Red (Elegy)
  • The Promised Land
  • Hey Tonya
  • Texas Underground
  • Gas Station Girl
  • Long, Black Road Into Tulsa Town
  • Workin for Jesus
  • Gun-Metal Eyes
  • Sarah Turn 'Round
All songs written by Dave Carter.

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

Copyright 2007, Peterborough Folk Music Society and Roberta B. Schwartz.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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