The first thing I thought when I grabbed this CD wasn't any regard of music but rather "Wow! Lookit that way past cool Dillon Beach gatefold airshot! Man, that's PRIME hiking lowlands!", and I'll indeed find the place and explore it in the future. Then I opened the liner and caught the Bohemian Renaissance painting of Wells 'n thought "Hm, another Toulouse Engelhardt maybe" and was mostly mistaken in that, as Stan's a folkie through and through while Toulouse is a guitar twangler pyrotechnician at heart, despite his ballads and such. Finally, I took note of the sit-ins: David LaFlamme, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, David Grisman, and others and rubbed my hands: "Sweeeet!".
Wells prefers the cool and breezy laid back style of the full-on folk strain. Sit Beside Me, for instance, is Simon and Garfunkel by way of Jesse Colin Young, while Like a River has a more baroque Renaissancey feel to it, filtered through the Great Plains, something members of Steeleye Span might've joined in with the Incredible String Band for a while, all and sundry stopping by Farmer Brown's for quiet barnyard songmaking before heading for the Tetons. The companioning River's Got to Flow, dedicated to the Friends of the River organization, is a protest song, and, as with much of the fare here, the backing vocals are extremely important to the track's texture. Betty Perkns sings like Ameican Gothic feels while one of the male vocalists, either Mike Perkins or Ted Anderson, can't tell which, encants in a striking basso profundo…like a John B. Wells (Coast to Coast radio show host) who decided to go two octaves below his already resonant voice and rumble.
I Just Want to Tell You is a stripped-down cut featuring Perkins' delicate ukulele work, fingerstyle, sounding like a piccolo guitar, as Wells and Perkins duet, birds in a courtship flight. It's A Beautiful Day fans might want to note that LaFlamme plays not only his trademark violin but cello as well in the disc, and no one is grandstanding at any point whatsoever. Everything's pretty much cool breezes and thoughtful reflection, though the duet of Wells and Elliott kinda threatens to git uppity then decides to just stay smart-alecky and cynical while wistful and spunky.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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