The title to this Harmonious Wail CD is particularly appropriate, as it's their most sensual disc to date, sometimes almost lurid in its nakedly seductive powers, as in I Like to Feel my Bones (a drop dead unbelievable song written by singer Maggie Delaney-Potthoff). It also contains the most cover songs from contemporary musicians—four of 'em (see the track listings below). Thus, when you note the illustration on the cover, think more than once about it (sword-swallowing women…mm-mm-mmmmmmmmm!)…and about the leeringly satisfied grin on the carny barker's mug on the back cover. The Wail, it appears, is not above hedonism, and I suspect the idea to Resist Temptation is not truly a part of their vocabulary, musical or otherwise.
The opening cut, Joie de Vivre, is a sultry number written by Sims Delaney-Potthoff, the mando cat of the combo, and wife Maggie gets even sexier in the follower, the just-mentioned I Like to Feel My Bones, chronicling a vixen searching for a saucer of cream, if you know what I mean. And you do. Tom Waselchuk tosses in some balmy Spanish guitar while John Christenen walks a slow throbbing bass throughout. I suggest you have a significant other available while you listen to this CD, 'cause, if the horns of legend don't rise, then you're already three feet in the grave. Maggie's voice in this cut goes through a very wide range, every inch handled adeptly, never losing an iota of the earthy ribald essence of primal eros in countrified ways. There is, however, a back story here, and I'll let you discover it on your own.
But wait till you hear what she does to Lou Reed's Who Loves the Sun. And Steely Dan's Home at Last. And the Waits-Brennan You Can Never Hold Back Spring. And, well, every cut is of a piece, though some, as the Reed cut and the way bitchin' Lost Horizon intro melismatic section of Waselchuk's Lung Shan Temple Chant, are just mellow fun, the latter ramping up into an Appalachian skitter with a great solo from violinist Howard Naughton. Everyone, however, can pick and grin to beat the devil, and if all this isn't sufficient to sell you on this release, there's one last really cool surprise: David Bromberg sits in.
And whomever this Howard Levy guy is…man, can he tear it up on harmonica!
More than anything, though, despite all The Wail's killer virtues, Maggie Delaney-Potthoff is just waiting to be discovered big time. If Tinsel Town's looking for the next Toni Tenille / Karen Carpenter / June Christy / Lani Hall / etc. synthesis, she's all that and more. What a voice!
This is one of four reviews of Harmonious Wail releases. For the remainder, see here, here, and here.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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