october 2009

THE GIVING TREE BAND, Great Possessions

The juncture at which the Giving Tree intersects the Band comes in the evocation of a specific time and place, specifically in America; their paths diverge when the GTB evokes not the past but the present, in terms both subtle and vivid.

CLAIRE LYNCH, Whatcha Gonna Do

Sometimes good music is its own calling card, and the honest of its presentation gives it a larger dimension. So it is with Claire Lynch's beautiful Whatcha Gonna Do. This album has the feel of something that's going to be a welcome guest at any time of the day, for as long as one can imagine-timeless, in a word, classic, in another.

MAC MCANALLY, Down By the River

Nattering nabobs of negativism are hereby advised to shelve the pessimism and listen to what Mac McAnnally has to say on his superb, deeply personal Down By the River. Over the course of 11 songs, the husky-voiced singer-songwriter explores the highways and byways of accentuating the positive, suggests an embrace of faith might be what the doctor ordered to keep things in perspective, and broadly advances a school of thought on the value of not so much living in the moment as finding a balance suitable for long-term happiness and productivity.

MONROE CROSSING, Heartache & Stone

Bluegrass being music means it knows no boundaries, so hearing some of the finest of its kind coming from the frozen north of Minnesota is unsurprising. Those being introduced to Monroe Crossing via Heartache & Stone will need venture no further into the disc than, oh, the second cut to understand fully why the quintet is newly inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame.


Give Bryan Sutton credit: he knows how to make the most of an opportunity. As soulful a guitar picker as he is a masterful one, he's doubly so on his own solo outing. Generous too—note the "and Friends" billing for the august assemblage of all-universe players who serve to inspire Sutton and each other to greater heights of feeling and nuanced playing in sessions Sutton the producer designed to be free-flowing and spontaneous.

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