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March/April 2018 Short Takes

Robin Lee Berry "Weave Me a Parachute" 2017 A delight both musically and spiritually, Weave Me a Parachute, is arguably Robin Lee Berry's finest release yet. Her first full release since 2004, Berry's expressive voice centers this collection of ten originals. Although her shimmering vocals will seep into your skin, it is the artistry of an eclectic cast of musicians melding together with Berry's voice that make these performances synonymous with the beauty and magic of Northern Lower Michigan. Berry's seductive violin and Tom Bourke's accordion, that settles down like a warm dew, on ""Deep Deep Hole" to Glenn Wolff's enchanting dobro on "Tea & Orange Peels" and Crispin Campbell's' swelling cello on "Gone Wild," are quintessential performances that offer a solid folk sensibility floating on a deeper musical statement about the joy and fulfillment that can be achieved by musicians taking part in a collaborative journey. © James Filkins

Eric Loy "Loy's Laboratory" 2016 Eric Loy has been recording guitar music for over two decades, and on this CD, he compiles 16 of those tunes for a kind of retrospective on his creativity, called Loy's Laboratory. Loy plays all kinds of instruments on the CD steel string, nylon and electric guitars, as well as a harp guitar and spinet. And he has quite a list of "Impetus" on the CD jacket, including J.S. Bach, Lenny Breau, Chet Atkins, and Jack Bruce. The songs are a mix of well-formed compositions, to creative noodling that does find some sense of form and direction. "Lachrymal Archadia" is a classical guitar piece well played. "The Sovereignty of Christ" uses lots of fast two-handed tapping, interspersed with chords reminiscent of early Leo Kottke (also one of his list "Impetus"). Some other highlights of the disk: "Ups and Downs" on nylon guitar that channels Jerry Reed's work; "Tag, You're It" that brings to mind Chet Atkins in its rollicking, steady melody; "Grab Some Java" fingerpicked on electric; "Tamarama Rag" (recorded in 1990) with a driving alternating bass line in the thumb-pick style; and "June Afternoon." The recording quality of the various tracks is a mixed bag, some well-recorded, and others lacking a bit. An interesting glimpse into the music of Eric Loy who obviously loves making guitar music. © Kirk Albrecht

Richard Knott "Long Story Short" 2018 Richard Knott hails from Manchester, England. His first full album is a singer/songwriter affair, featuring tasteful ensemble playing and his versatile guitar. He favors a Piedmont blues style on the acoustic but also plays electric, nylon string, resonator, high-strung, and bass guitars and percussion. Contributing musicians include Ian Cleverdon on mandolin, Colin Oakes on guitar, Phil Caffrey on piano, and Jane Knott on background vocals. Knott's songs are pleasant and well-structured. His lyrics reflect Baby Boomers' concerns of complicated relationships viewed from a mature and often humorous perspective. Typical of this is "Shrink," in which the singer confesses love for his therapist. Favorites include "Drink a Little Whiskey," "No Problem," a minor blues, "The Question," which recalls Donovan's "Sunshine Superman," and the closer, "Upon the Earth." Knott's taste as an arranger, solid guitar skills, and confidence in presenting his own material should earn him a wider audience. © Patrick Ragains

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