Sigh! Every time I get a new RR (Rural Rhythm) disc, I know I'm going to have to get the thesaurus back off the shelf and figure out a few new synonyms for 'superlative'. This CD's no exception, a collaborative between Steve Gulley and Tim Stafford atop a crack backing band matching their every move. RR has issued some truly righteous religiously themed discs over the last so many months, but this one falls far more into the secular sphere, and dandily so. Gulley plays bass, a little rhythm guitar, and sings, and Stafford wields a mean guitar while also encanting, the two blending like brothers.
Though the standards and musical rituals of old invade this release deeply, there's also a very generous sparkling foxtrot on up to the present day. You'll be correct in expecting a brace of Southern and mountain cuts brisk and snappy, but ballads like Nebraska Sky blend a bit of the old Mark-Almond Band (one of John Mayall's erstwhile session and concert units) with a laid-back Bruce Hornsby, even a touch of Batdorf & Rodney in the harmony vox, into their signature sound, easy on the ear, smooth on the spirit. The cleverly titled How did That Turn into My Problem? spins a spurning session back on an opportunistic floozy, the exasperated male in the story tired of opportunism and insincerity.
On a Day like This" contains a cool Seals & Crofts vibe, not to mention a bit of Brewer & Shipley, and the closer Angel on its Way is one of those human condition pensees mindful of what John Stewart appended to the back of his Wingless Angels LP, a quote from Oliver Makin (1903): "The earth is a depot where wingless angels pass the time waiting for the long ride home. Seeing a small boy smiling in the corner, I said: 'You must be anxious to go home.' 'I am home,' he replied, 'I just come here to play the games.' " The long ride home. We're all pining for it, and Angel on its Way reminds us how we get there. Not with money, not with achievements, not with hubris and bluff bravado but with kindness and consideration. You needn't be religious, philosophical, or the head of a charity, just human. This song serves to remind us of that. So does the rest of the CD.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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