HARBOUR GRACE: SONGS OF EASTERN CANADA
Grades 7 and up.
Volume 11 Number 1.
There is nothing technically wrong with this album of thirteen songs, of which two are of fairly recent origin. The album is not marred by any detectable production shortcomings, and the voices of the two singers, Rick Avery and Judy Greenhill, seem to be quite capable of handling the material. The trouble is that they don't seem to have the proper feel for the music: in effect, they are too good. Genuine folk singers live their songs, which are created out of cruel experience and passed down through generations, sung in kitchens and on porches. The voice is rough and the lyrics sometimes confused, but you are left with the feeling that you have heard a song from the soul. Avery and his wife are visitors to the tradition, and as technically good as they are, one is not left with the gut impact one receives from hearing, for example, Sam Lamer sing of sailing ships.
Take for instance their version of Dick Nolan's "Aunt Martha's Sheep," a song not traditional but penned in the last few years. As adequate as the version is, it imparts little of the feeling of the mischievous Newfoundlanders out for sport that Nolan's original does. Nolan actually sounds as if he were one of the boys sitting around the table eating stolen mutton and drinking beer when the Mountie walked in the door. This new version, however, lacks that element of the rogue and boon companion.
It is to be admitted, however, that genuine folk singers and musicians are getting scarce in this day and age, and people like Avery and Greenhill are to be commended for their effort to keep the old songs alive. For instance, they do a very good version of "Save Your Money When You're Young," and their version of an old immigrant's song "A Scarborough Settler's Lament" is most touching indeed. While the album may leave some things to be desired, my young niece was particularly delighted with it, especially the songs with a chorus like "My Father's Old Sou'Wester," indicating perhaps that the album is capable of reaching a wider audience than that which I address.
Tim Jaques, Dalhousie, NB..
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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