No one writes about the importance of people and events in our everyday lives like Catie Curtis. Relationships with family, spouses and children, as well as the passage of time are themes that occupy Curtis, and are represented in her new recording, Stretch Limousine on Fire. Unlike much of Curtis's earlier work, there is a sense of loss here—of a friend who has died and is re-imagined in a meeting beyond death, of partners separated by the grave, of parents who are aging. But lest you think Curtis is wallowing in sadness here, think again. Her eternal optimistic window on the world, as well her faith in the power of one individual making a difference, is ever present. What is different is that Curtis is facing a world that is aging and changing along with the rest of us. Here she is taking us along on her journey.
The lovely and touching lyrics of Let it Last epitomize the issues that life's middle years bring into focus. Here Curtis poignantly reflects on the lucky life she has led, her memories of a rich and happy childhood and the relationship she cherishes with now aging parents. Her only wish is that it all "last[s] a little longer." Country megastar Mary Chapin Carpenter adds a bit of shimmering gold dust on harmony vocals, while guitar ace Duke Levine shines on lap steel guitar. It does not get much better than this.
Highway del Sol is more than just another song about life on the road. It is a song about the path that takes us on "unexpected turns" through life. Curtis's voice reaches upwards for her signature falsetto—no one hits the beauty of those gorgeous notes like she does. And she has an able crew accompanying her, with Jay Bellerose on drums, Julie Wolf on keyboards and Thomas Juliano on electric guitar along with the always superb Levine who appears on virtually every track—lucky for us.
The title track, Stretch Limousine on Fire, comes out of a true to life experience that Curtis had out on the west coast where she witnessed an accident resulting in a limousine set aflame. She reflects on the fact that bad luck can come to anyone at any time.
River Wide is a thing of beauty. It is the kind of song that reminds you of the wonder of both Curtis's elegant songwriting and the loveliness of her voice. It is just Curtis accompanied by Glenn Patscha on piano. And it talks about hope—"the possibility of flight, the chance to soar above/ Maybe in the end that's enough." It is enough for this listener.
With Stretch Limousine on Fire, Curtis moves us from innocence to experience. There is life and loss; marriage and death; endings and possibilities, both. Watching Catie Curtis mature and grow as an artist and as a human being is a gift. Stretch Limousine on Fire is her gift to us.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society and Roberta B. Schwartz.
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