I don't know about you, but I love wide open lonely vistas. Don't really know why, I just do. I'm a desert rat by nature, and, more often than not, when I took vacations while apprenticing in Hell (aerospace), I almost always travelled to the Four Corners region and stayed there for weeks on end, solo hiking more often than not and exploring the red rock wastelands. Sheer beauty and then some. Along with art and the women I've known—well, most of 'em anyway—I'll go to my grave with those memories foremost, a smile on my face. When I listen to Suzanne Jarvie's Spiral Road, I'm reminded of times when more than a few followed that same wont, lived closer to the earth, took quiet pleasure just in the effortless act of existence, wanted no part of the rat race if it could be helped. Take look at this video:
I know those places, I've driven those roads, I've talked to the people; hopefully, you have too. If not, you don't know what you're missing…but this CD's a very good opportunity to remedy such absent ingredients of temperament. Ms. Suzanne harkens back to bygone days and wonders if the price of progress is actually worth it or are we all koyaanisqatsi? I know how I'd answer, but I always like to defease at least a little to people somewhat less cynical than me (which, er, means just about everyone on planet Earth). Jarvie's one of those poetesses whose wont runs counter to much of her gender's Betty Crocker tendencies, far more realistic, a good deal more metaphorically gripping:
Broken heads, broken hearts
From the atom to the sun
'Neath the sing-song rhyming patterns lurk a wealth of revelations had only through studies in neuro-biology, zen, AmerIndian wisdoms, and manifestos like Terence McKenna's The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge. Jarvie may hail from the Southwest, but her grasp of things embraces all humankind, and does so through a fetching combination of Joan Baez by way of Emmylou Harris. Spiral Road is produced by Hugh Christopher Brown, who tackled the chores to excellent effect on David Corley's unusual Available Light (here), and the music crew is perfectly in tune with Jarvie's folk/roots/mello-rock traditions frequently recalling the marvelous work of Iain Matthews (Matthews Southern Comfort, Plainsong, Hi-Fi, solo) with a definite skew to John Prine.
If you understand what that means, then you know I'm telling you to take your time with this CD: there's a lot more here than any first listen could possibly impart. And trust me that you need to read all the stanzas printed on the broadsheet of lyrics.
And where the hell is that incredible piece of rock in the background behind her, in that ranch photo??? Since I'll never get to Ayers Rock, I have GOT to go and commune with that slice of sandstone! It's grinning and smiling and taunting me…a lot like this CD's music.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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