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Maggie Council - Not in the House

Not in the House

Maggie Council

Available from CD Baby.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

You may not have heard of Maggie Council, but she's far from unknown, having shared stages with Al Stewart, Joan Armatrading, Hot Tuna, Steve Earle, Warren Zevon...yeah, I was shocked too (oh, and that reminds me: she opened for Michelle Shocked, as well). Council blends Joni (especially in the title cut), Melissa, Rickie Lee, Melissa Ferrick, and kindred chanteuse / provocateur / composers into a persona that's light and breezy while biting, satiric, and warmly intelligent all wrapped in one. Her compositions run to modern folk strains layered up in her own backing vox atop stripped down but rhythmic backgrounds, everything informed by a vivacious ennui (an odd conflation, true, but one listen will convey what I mean).

The recording has a slightly boomy and hollow big-room quality that dips the disc in a blues atmosphere even more than is otherwise present, veneering a patina of sepia and magnolias onto the brownstones and back alleys of the mode. Council's voice alternates between Betty Crocker sweet and upbeat, and then Mae West tart and knowing, someone who sees the bullshit and ignorance but is amused by it while not being fooled. Nonetheless, the tone here is positivistic amid many other virtues. Look especially for numerous very cool unusual decorations like her own voice-brass recessed "horn" backing in the opening cut, Nebraska Avenue.

Though she has six sessioneers on Not in the House, this is really all Maggie Council, everything else a matter of shading watercolor tints beside the singing and playing (guitar, piano, bass, toy piano)…except perhaps for the drums, which are kinda hard to muffle no matter what the context. The entire thing is perfect summer music, designed to cool you off a bit in the balminess of the presentation, and, since that season is almost here, ya might wanna think about not replacing that raggedy damn malfunctioning air conditioner in the back parlor, which is gonna cost ya an arm and a leg anyway, and just get this CD instead.

It's a thought.

Track List:

  • Nebraska Avenue
  • You Were Dancing
  • When Mama's Happy
  • Palm Trees in my Back Yard
  • Waking Up
  • Ordinary Dias
  • Not in the House
  • Coulda Been
  • These Two Boys
  • Picket Dancing
All songs written by Maggie Council.

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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