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Laura Siersema - Talon of the Blackwater

Talon of the Blackwater

Laura Siersema

Available from Laura Siersema's web site.

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

A heady concoction of classical, progressive, and light jazz musics, Talon of the Blackwater is a Renaissance-ish semi-symphonic enterprise by way of Joni Mitchell and a scattering of Paul Winter's early materials…well before he transferred his world-music sentiments into the New Age. Think, then, of shades of Chuck Mangione's mellow side during his high period, minus the improv—Land of Make Believe, perhaps, taken down a few notches rhythmically, administered a pensively literate soporific. That should get you through the door.

Laura Siersema encants in a high clear voice simultaneously bright, hopeful, and wistful alongside swirling misty veils of gauze and shimmering fairylands, pastoral heavens sans the traces of canonical dogma. Sharply slanted to the spiritual, mystic Christian a la Bruce Cockburn, the composer cleaves to an experientially informed sentiment fusing existentialism and transcendence, most sharply illuminated, amid her own extremely well composed and lyricized tracks, in the trad chestnuts Wade in the Water and All My Trials. Don't, however, think of Ramsey Lewis' much-famed version of the former nor Mickey Newbury's impossibly piercing take on the latter; Siersema makes these classics completely her own, baptizing them in cool streams of a luxurious healing that indexes perfectly into the flow of reflective soma comprising this entire release.

My Eye This Flower in Julep Runs is a gorgeous Edenic center ground between foggy ballad and melisma while Along the Fenway, an epic 14:35, becomes a spacious rendering taking advantage of the wide soundstage, alternating between delicacy and emphasis for a long intro descending into poetry and the sort of manifestation Joni was heading for but never quite arrived at.

More than once, Annie Haslam's dulcet tones peek out as well. Of particular note throughout the release, above Siersema's voice, guitar, and keys, is Michael Farquharson's bass playing, brimming with imagery and gesture, but expect to hear T. Lavitz (Dixie Dregs) and Eugene Friesen (Paul Winter) in there as well, lending their undeniable talents in a mix well presented by producer-engineer Jay Hovnanian, a synth player texturing the affair with palpably melancholy airs.

Talon of Blackwater won't fit comfortably within any single genre, but that's entirely appropriate. We are now, are we not?, in another period of change and renewal, and the arts, as always, are holding the door open. Siersema's disc is one among a small group emerging to hold the new mid-ground and stabilize landscapes as the next giant step is taken.

Track List:

  • Mother Mary Rose
  • Talon of the Blackwater and Graces
  • Go Children Slow
  • Wade in the Water
  • I was Once a Sailor
  • This Train
  • Jumping off the Big Board
  • My Eye this Flower in Juleps Runs
  • Who will Pass this On?
  • All My Trials
  • Along the Fenway
All songs written by Laura Siersema except Wade in the Water
(trad; add'l lyrics: Siersema) and All My Trials" (traditional).

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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