When reviewing Larry Murante's marvelous Point of Entry (here), I mentioned Robyn Landis' collaboration with him on a couple of songs. Well, he's here as well, singing and playing guitar, and I can, after hearing Many Moons, very easily see why he chose her to work with...and vice versa. Landis sings with a high, clear, laconically sweet voice informing the listener of the bittersweet nature of her work well before the lyrics are digested and pondered. I'm constantly reminded of a high plains vibe when listening to her material, all of it uncomplicated but beautifully melodic, the kind of easy tempos and sonorities one can fall readily into, happy to lay back and gently reminisce on the universality of living the human life.
Landis' guitar work is as gauzily soporific as her singing, spiced with great harmonica interludes by Mark Graham, here not as a blues instrument but instead harkening back to the days of Twain and his white picket fences, dirt roads, and rural sentiments. Likewise, Cary Black is the constant bassist, and he oscillates between pointillistic expression and gentle rhythmic undercurrents, often supplying the entire rhythm section (only 3 cuts carry percussion) and a large part of the deceptively wide baseline. Half the tracks further incorporate Jami Sieber's cello work in lazy skyblown complements to Landis' earthier presence.
Every cut here is a keeper, and Landis obviously either lavished a good deal of time on the arrangements or has a natural gift for it, probably both. Like David Wilcox, her work is rich with sympathy for human frailty and the thousand and one disappointments the flesh is heir to. Guitars and voices dominate the release but not roughly at all. In fact, the layering is so quietly hypnotic that you hardly notice anything but the tapestry of laving tones drifting whisperingly in the ear. Even given the longing and mysteries pervading every minute of the dozen cuts (housed in gorgeous tri-fold packaging with full credits, notes, and lyric booklet), this is a very refreshing CD and stays so each time it's broached. Hard to believe it's her debut solo release, but that's indeed the case—of course, the fact that she has a list of awards and recognitions as long as your arm explains a lot of that. Robyn Landis, I'm quite sure, waited until her art was fully matured and, man, does it ever show.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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