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Bill Harley - First Bird Call

First Bird Call

Bill Harley

RRR204

Available from Amazon.com.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker
(progdawg@hotmail.com).

You may have heard Bill Harley if you listen to NPR (National Public Radio). He's not only a singer, player, and composer but also an author, playwright, and radio commentator. More, he's a Grammy winner. Thus, it's not surprising to find this CD to be not only polished but knowing and witty. The guy's been around and kept his eyes open...well enough that he's a progressive, eschewing the idiocies of conservatism, a fact well illustrated in his lyrics.

Strings are Harley's thing, so he plies acoustic and electric guitars, banjo, mandolin, and bouzouki below folky vocals. The song's thematics hit the expected spectrum of concerns: greed (Half a Loaf, Enough is a Feast), love (Like A Broken Wheel), and the transience of things (Where I am From), as well as more immediate topicality like the jawdropping criminality of the Bush Crime Family (Ahab), uncertainty (Call), and of course an all-consuming Olympian competition in a galaxy-crushing race to…well, compose a Rhode Island State song. Through it all, Harley's voice carries a positivistic tone, an attitude of hope even amidst the chaos and melancholy.

Woody & Pete peek through in Enough is a Feast, a singalong with a kid & adult chorus and an admonition not to forget the needy of the world or society's fickle ways and those who fall afoul of them. Call has a Firefall-ish melody line to it as well as that Rick Roberts bounce, then First Bird Call drags the banjo out for a country tune with Kevin Fallon's fiddle gliding above. Almost every cut is a gentle admonition on the increasingly inhumane mindset we're adopting as we "evolve" and "sophisticate", a reminder to stay human despite technocracy and inhuman conservative politics.

Track List:

  • Half a Loaf
  • Queen of Spades
  • Enough is a Feast
  • Call Ahab
  • First Bird Call
  • Like a Broken Wheel
  • Smart People, Stupid Words
  • You Make Me Smile
  • Dangerous
  • The Size of the State of Rhode Island
  • Where Am I From?
All songs written by Bill Harley.

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

Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
 

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