The cover shot of Mary Anne Anderson wearing a beret and broad-striped sweater, chin in hand, looking out at the audience, started me thinking "Oh, a Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, maybe Melanie Safka album, a folk affair", but, no, that wasn't it at all. Rendezvous is a collection of duets, occasionally with some overdubbing, Anderson forming her own backing vocals, of voice and guitar in older jazz format, circa Kessel, Byrd, and others. The recording is vérité and hence a tad hollow and not fully balanced, but Doug MacDonald's a competent player and Anderson possesses a well trained voice set in a sweet upper register. I suspect MacDonald is quite capable of swingin' Barney Kessel verve, his progressions and strum patterns indicate it, but has restrained himself to accommodate Anderson, who completely favors a kind of Julie Andrews jazzy soft rock larksong.
Though Rendezvous is romantic, it stays too much in the same mode and 'ere long becomes workmanlike, losing dynamism, especially in the switches between singing and soloing, yeomanish. Because of that, neither has a chance to really show any decent range. Anderson can sing, MacDonald can play, but to what degree? I suspect Ms. Anderson should go ensemble next time around for that reason. Duets can be brutal because of their nakedness. Little mistakes magnify and any lacks that might otherwise escape notice in a musical mixture become far too evident without it. Uptempo tracks are definitely needed in the meantime, to set off the delicacies of her chosen wont. Finally, a bit more woodshedding or rehearsing woudn't hurt, as the magic of artistically integrated spirits is missing and interpretation is sort of a cry in the wilderness here.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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