This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 10/99
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
Most instrumental-laden releases such as this one, with 10 of the 17 cuts being such, tend to be relegated sooner or later to background music--not this one. Harvey Reid is a musical master whose wizardry will literally force your attention away from what you are doing. He breaks down your will, if any, to resist his calling and leaves you gleefully smitten with his offerings.
A musician-singer-songwriter who publishes under his own label, Reid quickly establishes his independence on this release by opening with "Macallan's Jig," a solo 6-string guitar cut with an engaging rhythm. He then generally alternates between instrumental tunes and songs, throughout the rest of the selections.
His guitar solos are nuanced in style and intensity, varying from a barebones, straightforward guitar sound on the aforementioned "Macallan's Jig," to the old-timey "The Magnolia Promenade," to the bluesey "Above The Clouds" featuring slide guitar and finally the closing tune, the soft, reflective "The Ash Grove."
Besides his own guitar and banjo solos, Reid demonstrates a fresh inventiveness by pairing up various combinations of instruments in his collaborations with fellow musicians--octave mandolin and violin, autoharp and keyboard, octave mandolin and guitar, autoharp and violin, and autoharp and viola.
"The Great Pyramid," a duel of octave mandolin and violin, blends high-spirited Middle Eastern and Eastern European sounds. The mix of autoharp and keyboard in "In Dark Winter Rejoiceth" yields the feel of an old English tune. Octave mandolin and guitar turn "Lindsay Road" into a playful-sounding composition. "Times Gone By" exudes sweetness with its fusion of autoharp and violin.
The first song, "I Have Finally Found a Home" possesses an anthem-type rhythm, aided by guitar, hurdy gurdy, accordion and whistle backing. Reid sings of finally finding, after a lengthy exodus, a place of comfort in which to reside.
The confessional-like "Silver Midnight Moon" weaves its way into an adamant enunciation of the cherishment and appreciation of personal freedom and responsibility. He sings of the vow to be a better human being, of those promises and pledges "when the blood is still fresh from the wound" that are so much more difficult to live up to and carry out than to make.
"It's a Banjo Playing" is a folksy, sweet reflection on the many simple comforts of life.
Si Kahn's sorrowful "Aragon Mill" depicts the effects of a mill's closure on both the life force of a town and the song's narrator, a resident "too old to work and too young to die." Reid's wistful singing captures the atmosphere needed to pull off this mournful song.
Reid's harmony vocals with T.S. Baker, mixed with accordion and viola backing yield an endearing "This Old Heart of Mine." His vocals throughout are clear, sensitive and inviting, making the listener wish he included more songs on this release.
His compositions and performance reveal extraordinary talent, with his crisp and clean music delivering a full spectrum of time and place. One cut seems as if rescued from 200 years of neglect, followed by another sounding straight out of the 1990s. This is an exquisite, delicate release, elegantly created by a true craftsman. It may be a little more difficult than usual to locate Reid's music but the payoff is well worth it. Seek it out--you'll be thankful you did. Independent musicians of this quality deserve your support.
Reid's instrument portfolio and virtuosity includes 6-string and slide guitars, autoharp, 6-string banjo and octave mandolin. Brian Silber assists him on violin and viola; Lynn Rothermich on harmony vocals; Gary Sredzienski on accordion; Kent Allyn on electric bass; Anne Dodson on harmony vocals and wood whistle; Matt Szostak on hurdy gurdy; T.S. Baker on harmony vocals; David Surette on mandolin; and Rick Watson on keyboard.
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