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The Big Time

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Audio CD, June 18, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

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It has been 10 years since Robin Holcomb's previous album of vocal songs, and it might take listeners another decade to absorb all the nuances, textures, and deceptive complexities of this diverse collection. Her vocal trill has the Appalachian purity of Dolly Parton's, her spare piano playing sounds like Randy Newman at certain moments and like the Anglican hymnal at others, and the oblique originality of her material finds a kindred spirit in Laurie Anderson's performance art. The result is roots music whose roots extend from traditional folk ("A Lazy Farmer Boy," "Engine 143") to classical avant-garde ("Pretend," "I Want to Tell the Story"). Those who prized the austere simplicity of Holcomb's earlier recordings will have to adjust to the electronic atmospherics provided by keyboardist/producer/husband Wayne Horvitz and his band Zony Mash, joined by guitarist Bill Frisell. Ethereal harmonies from Kate and Anna McGarrigle highlight the bittersweet "Like I Care" and the closing "Lullaby." --Don McLeese


Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 18, 2002)
  • Original Release Date: 2002
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B000067IQK
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #382,553 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 24, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Robin Holcomb's new album is challenging, engaging, and ultimately, emotionally resonant and moving. A singer-songwriter unlike her peers, her lyrics are more often oblique than obvious--and her melodies often require a second (or third) listen. "Pretend" uses the phrase "I want someone to call me baby" as a repeated invocation, a prayer set off against the religious theme of "prepare your body for the laying on of hands." It's challenging at first--but after a few listens, it's impossible to stop playing the song in your head. Yet the time invested in this album more than pays off--Robin's work provides an arresting insight into the psyche of love and the music itself is surprisingly melodic and beautiful. Robin sings "the story improves the more it's repeated." The same is true for The Big Time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Frank Camm on March 22, 2006
Format: Audio CD
She's back! Less weird and edgy than the 1990 eponymous album; no hint of the mainstream rock from Rockabye. Rather, very sophisticated music closer to an artist's loft than to a Southern bottom. Frissell's languid guitar fits her wandering, skittery vocals perfectly. Generally tougher than either earlier album. Haunting piano is still here, but submerged in a tighter, tougher mix. She sounds surer of herself, less at risk from that dark bottom or whatever. One of the best pop albums of 2002. The more I hear it, the more I like it. [44:28]
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By J. Jupp on December 16, 2011
Format: MP3 Music
i'd describe it as "indie folk with some spook" or "if sufjan stevens were a middle-aged woman..." it might take a few listens to adjust to the dissonance, but she writes beautiful music to say the least. it's 7 years old, yet still very modern. this album is worth every penny.
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