Will Ackerman is rightly a legend in modern music. He took his Windham Hill label from great Americana into delicious chamber jazz just before the imprint collapsed. Himself a guitar master and highly polished composer, the guy's latterday solo works rivaled the inimitable Oregon band, and it was with great regret that connoisseurs witnessed the passing of the vinyl enterprise just as it was reaching a zenith rarely attained. If you, like me, thought he should have snagged Liz Story into Windham Hill, then, in Rebecca Harrold, you have a chance to see what that would've meant, as Harrold possesses the lyrical strengths of Story melded not only with Ackerman's co-production sensitivities on this disc but also the involvement of high-level notables like Charlie Bisharat, Eugene Friesen, Tony Levin, and others.
The result is a latterday Renaissancey affair, baroque and pastoral-moderne simultaneously. Harrold's wont is perhaps best shown in Morning Dove (though its follower, Gotta Never Give Up is a strong second place, almost Cianni-esque in temper), an autumnal solo piece demonstrating her gauzily wistful tendencies. In fact, it might be best to start with that cut before proceeding to the rest of the CD, as it sets the stage by which her colorations and imagery emerge best before being flanked by the ensemble's highly tasteful collaborations.
River is an entirely instrumental CD—I include Penni Layne's melismatics as laryngeally instrumentalist—and a thoughtful collection of miniatures not meant to be consumed on the moment and then passed by, as too much present day fare is. It's grinningly apposite, then, that Harrold's acumen is such that she's also a member of the Y.O.M.A.M.M.A. band which has opened for the Average White Band and The Guess Who (!!!). After all, Burton Cummings, singer for the hoary Guess Who, was operatically trained before entering the woolly world of rock and roll (as, by the way, was Ronnie James Dio). Not a whit of rock enters here, though, just an intelligent tapestry of intimate landscapes to engage the mind and emotions.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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