James Durst,
Internationally Unknown
(WorldWind, 2006)

James Durst is a world-class folksinger with a smooth, light voice. Internationally Unknown may not be quite true, as Durst has spent a lot of time entertaining in and with players from other countries around the world. A wonderful up-tempo Bengali song adds to the international theme on this CD.

With a smooth, light and musically adept voice, Durst fills this CD with new words and arrangements of traditional works as well as a few by other writers. "A Whaling Trilogy" is told from the view of the whaler, the whaler's wife and the whale, covering all the angles.

"A Mighty Day" is a good example of new words and arrangements that Durst uses to bring us his message. He is a purveyor of messages, a deliverer of news and a peacemaker of sorts with his ability to open our eyes to other worlds as we listen to his songs.

He's toured in 45 countries and appears to especially be an entertainer of the thinking and working men and women as he serves in the common arenas of life, coffee houses, colleges, schools and churches, and can easily be described as an international troubadour.

I found the songs easy to listen to, his guitar accompaniment filled out the songs in simple context though at times, he expanded and played around a bit with the sound to add an international flavour.

I thought the trilogy songs were a little strong compared to the rest of the tracks and they threw the balance off a bit, especially since they happened in the middle of the CD. On one section, Durst speaks the lyrics, and he has an incredible speaking voice. I would have liked to hear the whole trilogy spoken instead in song.

I also enjoyed "A Might Day" and "Twelve Gates to the City," an alleluia song. "Grace," a song about dancing by Melissa Javors, is a cute piece that allows all those who wish to dance to do so. "If I Had a Hammer" is a gentle version that is a reminder that the search for justice goes on ... everywhere.

This is definitely a timeless folk CD with a message that crosses the attitudes of the 2000s with the 1970s. There are some folksy guitar beats and a pleasing voice that meanders with us around the globe and offers some sparkling thoughts on humanity along the way.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Virginia MacIsaac

2 February 2008

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