If someone told me that this was recorded in the fifties or early sixties, I would not have been surprised. From the deep reverb on the guitars to the sparse use of banjo for effect, the aura is there. While listening to this, I had to look around at times to make sure I wasn't back in the old hometown listening on my parents old console—all that was needed was the hiss of the needle in the groove.
Don't take this the wrong way. The music isn't dated, necessarily, but I can point it to where it belongs. For instance, Love Is As Love Does is slow ballad practically out of a fifties movie, a lead-in song over the credits, fading out as the scene and its sounds fade in. The single deadened plucked notes on the banjo are eerie in their soundtrack effect. Country & Western isn't really Country & Western when Finnie sings it, but if you remember correctly, it wasn't then either. Not all the time. Singers like Rosemary Clooney, Dinah Shore and Doris Day sang Country & Western as did a few hundred other vocalists. It just didn't sound Country & Western, that's all. What's the Matter With Me? doesn't sound Country & Western, either, but it doesn't sound like it wouldn't have sounded if it had been recorded in the fifties. Are you getting any of this? Is this mike on? How about a little fifties' pop lounge music? Slow Burn. A rock ballad with pedal steel (more like Hawaiian pedal steel) and pop melody? Lover's Hum. Semi-surf pop? Ball and Chain. Only the Americana-ish So Much Better steps out of the past, a slow and light folk ballad.
Maybe you have to have grown up in the fifties to understand what was done here, intentionally or not. Lisa Finnie wrote twelve really good songs, wrapped them in fifties studio arrangements (I mean, I haven't heard music recorded quite like this in years and years) and handed it to us a gift. It isn't about the songs, though they are certainly good. It isn't about the performance, though Finnie has a smooth and pleasing voice and the players are outstanding. It is about the sound. Finnie and crew nailed it, top to bottom, yet it doesn't sound dated. It just sounds fifties. I know. It's confusing.
It is not confusing to listen to, though. Finnie and friends have a way of washing over you without you even realizing it. Like I said. It's smooooth. Perfect for deck parties and drinking after hours. This is good stuff. I ought to know. I remember the fifties. Good times.
Oops. Almost forgot. If you like cool, this CD is black like a record and has (fake) grooves and a label, just like the big records with the little holes do. It looks a bit like the old Imperial labels from the (ahem) fifties. When I first pulled it out, I thought there had been a mistake, that they had sent some kind of promo item which wouldn't play. I'd never seen a CD like this. But when I put it in the player, it played. It played very well, indeed, thank you. It just looks cool, too.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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