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Kathy's a profound songwriter and expressive singer,
This review is from: Reason & Rhyme (Audio CD)
San Franciscan Kathy Kallick is a mountain gal at heart. An experienced musician, she cut her teeth on bluegrass and put out several albums with the Good Ol' Persons. She then recorded her first solo album ("Matters of the Heart") in 1993. "Use A Napkin [Not Your Mom]" and "Call Me A Taxi" followed in 1995 and 1996, respectively. Her own Kathy Kallick Band formed in 1997, and they issued "Walkin' In My Shoes" at the end of 1998. Kallick's only album with no original compositions, "My Mother's Voice," came out in 2001.
Her singing has always been earthy and passionate. As a songwriter, she knows how to pen beautiful impressionistic pieces with memorable contemporary messages. Over ten years since Kallick's "Matter of the Heart," her first foray into contemporary folk music, "Reason & Rhyme" is her long-awaited return to the beauty of the singer/songwriter tradition. While it may be that love is "beyond all reason and rhyme," this album gives us a logical, well planned, and thoughtful presentation of her next round of original material. Best categorized as acoustic Americana, it has apparent influences from many stylistic genres of music from folk to Celtic, and country to bluegrass. The result is some fresh sounding tuneful fare that acoustic music lovers will immediately embrace. With its diverse influences, "Reason & Rhyme" might seem like a big step from bluegrass, but the roots are still there.
A troubadour and exquisite storyteller, Kallick solely wrote nine of the songs that embrace the human spirit and tell life-affirming tales. She collaborated with Scott Nygaard to pen "Love You on a Train," while Nina Gerber is also credited with composing "Take Care of Your Little Girls." A splendid country number with hit potential, "The Words You Don't Say," was co-written with James Leva and Carol Elizabeth Jones. A Kate Wolf cover ("Trumpet Vine") and two traditional songs ("Lone Pilgrim" and "Handsome Cabin Boy") round out the album. All lyrics are included. The fifteen songs span an hour in total, and the songs are given liberally-timed arrangements (most spanning 4-5 minutes each) that leisurely allow the songs' messages to share the spotlight with her fine, proficient instrumental accompanists.
The album opens with "I Once Loved," played and sung by a full band that includes Scott Nygaard, Herb Pedersen, Amy Stenberg, Brian Wicklund, John Reischman, and Cindy Brown, the same configuration featured on "Coastal Fog" and almost the same assemblage on the album closer, "Bring Me Back To You." Track four, "The Words You Don't Say," introduces her friends Laurie Lewis (fiddle, vocals), Tom Rozum (mandolin, vocals), and Sally Van Meter (dobro). The arrangements are tightly crafted, with each song given its own non-formulaic treatment. Interspersed with those given a fuller approach are some wonderfully-lean offerings like "Trumpet Vine" and "Just a Song" and "Take Care of Your Little Girls" that showcase Nina Gerber's powerful guitar work. Equally impressive on his instrument, Scott Nygaard adds a second guitar for interplay with Nina's on "What a Night." Another pleasant surprise is the five-minute plaintive folk ballad, "Lone Pilgrim" in which Kathy's mournfully sweet voice is accompanied only by Laurie's fiddle that sounds much like a Swedish hardanger. A cameo appearance by Peter Rowan is made on "Rustler's Moon," a song inspired by the late Charles Sawtelle, while Todd Phillips and Stuart Duncan join in on "Hard to Let Go."
"Reason & Rhyme," Kathy Kallick's lucky thirteenth album release, will hopefully bring her more of the fame and fortune she deserves as a profound songwriter and expressive singer. She and her musical friends give us a gripping performance on it. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)