The last time I ran across Dan Schatz was when reviewing the superb Singing through the Hard Times—A Tribute to Utah Philips (here), an outstanding collective of musicians (Schatz included), honoring the late folk legend. That effort rightfully earned him a Grammy nomination. Now, he's stepped back to concentrate on his own work in a marvelous CD/book combination that features not only his tunes but also writings and commentary. The Song and the Sigh is a time machine back to the American and European folk wave of the 60s and 70s, when the rime of much older days still hung nicely on the movement.
Though more than a few tangs of the estimable Pete Seeger make their way into the repertoire, one is far more reminded of the era in England that saw Pentangle, Jansch & Renbourn, Keith Christmas, Dave Cousins & the early Strawbs, Steeleye Span, Ralph McTell, and others who still hold a special place in the history. The a cappella A Little Gracefulness is particularly pleasing, reminding us that before the Manhattan Transfer came along, there was a much older tradition afoot, one that could still use a little more revival, as here—followed by the perhaps even more beautiful Daylight Song, the point is driven home.
More than once, Schatz's sentiments remind of Guy Mendilow's gentle exhortations to come together to find peace and harmony rather than strife and pain. Mendilow tends to a Hebrew/Jewish viewpoint, and Schatz is a Unitarian Universalist minister but all such POVS and mindsets are inextricably linked and kindred. The entire CD revolves around this spirit, and Schatz located an assemblage of singers and players who complement his own voice and fingerpicking perfectly. Again, for those of us who grew up in that period, this CD is a very strong remembrance of the days when Tyrannosaurus Rex, Tir Na Nog, the vastly undersung Strawbs, even Pete Sinfield in some of his solo work, and precious few others were making folk music that dipped strongly backwards while moving forwards, a bridge to freely travel worlds and a reminder that—in the brutal world of rampant conservatism, war, and capitalism (redundant?)—gentility, consideration, and beauty still have a place, thank God.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles