This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 5/03
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
Michael Smith, Anne Hills, Steve Gillette, Cindy Mangsen--four long-recognizable names in the world of folk music. In this release, they've teamed up their talents under the moniker Fourtold, with each selecting and presenting a series of story songs. As Gillette describes so well in the liner notes: "It's the kind of music we would have heard from the open windows of our college dorm."
This is a release featuring harmony singing as each artist joins in the vocals on every cut. One typically leads, backed by the others, but some numbers use the harmony arrangement from the beginning.
Gillette includes a rendition of his most famous song "Darcy Farrow." For those unfamiliar, it's a weeper about unrequited love though not due to the usual bastions of treachery, religious or social strata differences. He also offers an intriguing newish composition, "Two Men In The Building," ostensibly about the murky circumstances of John F. Kennedy's assassination in Dallas but concluding with the protagonist's relationship with his father:
"And for the longest time not a word would pass between usThis song deserves to become as well known as "Darcy Farrow" is for Gillette.
Experience and innocence impatient with each other
Two generations waiting, waiting for the heat to turn to light
Without the two men in the building, two more in the bushes on the right"
Anne Hills' best contributions are her song "Pendle Hill" and the Peggy Seeger-written coal mine disaster tune "Ballad Of Springhill." "Pendle Hill" is a pre-Salem witch trial composition that raises the question of who were the real devil worshippers--the accused or the accusers? Actions speak louder than words.
Michael Smith adds two of his songs to the mix, "Panther In Michigan" and "Aramalee." Interestingly, his most popular creation, the oft-covered but still moving "The Dutchman," is missing. Apparently sparked by a newspaper article, "Panther In Michigan," is carried by Smith's bold guitar work. The victor in "Aramalee" is not the strongest but the wily one who is able to commit the last act of treachery.
Cindy Mangsen presents an Eric von Schmidt-written song "Joshua Gone Barbados" and the traditional tune "I Drew My Ship."
Michael Smith leads on the closer, Blind Blake's spiritual-like "Run, Come, See Jerusalem," but all vocally contribute in the most sing-along song of the CD.
The bottom line: is this CD worth recommending? Yes, enough of the offerings are compelling and enjoyable to merit a positive nod.
Steve Gillette appears on vocals and guitar; Anne Hills on vocals, banjo and percussion; Cindy Mangsen on vocals, guitar, concertina, accordion and piano and Michael Smith on vocals and guitar.
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