Yeah, the title to her latest CD is Misery Loves Company, and she even pens a nasty little tune by the moniker of I'm Dreaming of Your Demise (a word of warning, boys: don't cross up the wimmens!), but Mary Flower's new little gem is anything but pain and death. In fact, she's rather like the Joni Mitchell of the blues: everything the woman does turns to beauty. From that sedate pleasant singing voice to her flawless fingerstyle playing, nothing's missing…especially not her impressive guests: the inimitable Colin Linden, harp hot-cat Curtis Salgado, cool beyond cool Dave Frishberg, and others…including a really righteous duet with LaRhonda Steele on Rev. Gary Davis' Goin' to Sit Down on the Banks of the River.
There's a consummate melodiousness to Flower's work, and if we wish to risk damaging political correctness, we might want to hazard that it's due to her gender, which sees things quite differently from the overwhelmingly male tenor of the realm's historied denizens. On the other hand, more than once I was reminded of Bruce Cockburn's arrangements, especially in the instrumental Devil's Punchbowl, and Jitters sounds like a cut accidentally left off a Leon Redbone LP, so I ain't claimin' that Mary doesn't know how to get down in the bayou with the best of 'em...just that she does so with a good deal of decorousness.
Part of this derives in the Piedmont style she so favors, a rag-inflected good-time mode that informs her writing, and if you don't glance at the track menu, you're going to have a tough time determining which came from her and which didn't (save, of course, for the timeless classic Shake Sugaree). Hardly a surprise, then, to find out that this is a Yellow Dog CD, distributed by MVD no less, and a home richly deserved by the singer-player-writer. There are a lot of really good blues imprints out there, but Yellow Dog is one of the most unique, always a beacon of quality, intelligence, and innovation, from the sadly now-defunct Asylum Street Spankers, an ensemble of very talented cut-ups, to the rocking' psychedelic blue-Motown of The Soul of John Black to Flower herself. When you get done with this CD, ya might wanna peek at the entire YD back catalogue. Every single disc is a winner, well chosen, lovingly presented.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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