God almighty!, just look at the collection of guitarists Diane Hubka gathered for West Coast Strings: Mimi Fox, Peter Sprague, Larry Koonse, John Pisano, Ron Eschete, Barry Zweig, David Eastlee, Anthony Wilson, and, of course, herself. I was afraid of opening the disc up for fear of swooning. There are, of course, a number bassists and drummers as well, and even Jeff Pierce on the B-3, but the spotlight is set on a slew of dueting romances between guitars and voice. When the other instruments are present, they're muted and subtle, guitar and voice way out front, as it should be. Hubka possesses a clear clean style that's jazzy in its fundament but not all that far from soft/MOR folk and pop rockers (Helen Reddy, Toni Tenille, Karen Carpenter, Cary Simon, etc.).
Everything gets downright funky on the Gershwins' It Ain't Necessarily So, though, Bobby Pierce introducing a muted old school B-3 as Anthony Wilson plies guitar above, Hubka bouncing alongside, encanting the jivily satiric lyrics. The middle eight comes up, Hubka lays out, Wilson solos, and Pierce comps. Formulaic perhaps, but this kind of CD is not for Braxtonian, Jarrettesque blow-outs, not at all. We need some smooth soothing musical tonic for our workaday woes and too hurried lives, and West Coast Strings is just the prescription. The disc is a 'we like what we know, we know what we like, and we sure need it!' occasion. June Christy provided our dads and granddads with balm, and Diane Hubka has taken up the cross.
Nothing here is frantic, threatening, or raucous, only once cautionary (Someone Else is Stepping In) and otherwise mellifluously upbeat, appraisive, wistful in positive tones, and smile-inducing. When you were an infant, when you graduated to being a kid, your mother may have sung to reassure and entrance, drive away the boogie men and outside world, and Ms. Hubka does much the same for the pos-adolescent set. Adults need respite too, it's difficult to locate in the rat race, and so with West Coast Strings, we sail into safe harbor, moor a line to the dock, kick back in our deck chairs, put tired dogs up on the taffrail, and invite the minstrel in for a cup of grog and mutual good feelings. Next comes a good night's sleep and waking refreshed, ready to sail forth once again. That's what Strings accomplishes.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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