Steve Eulberg,
I Celebrate Life!
(Owl Mountain, 2005)

Steve Eulberg works with Owl Mountain Music, which is "dedicated to helping people sing their soul." At first look this one appears to be a children's CD because of the smiling young face on the cover. However, after the first few tracks, which do sound like fun tunes to appeal to children, there are instrumentals that will become part of those I will return to again and again.

I quickly realized Eulberg is an innovative and accomplished musician who wrote the music on this CD inspired by his life and loves. His tunes for mountain and hammered dulcimer have resulted in Eulberg being recognized as an award-winning singer-songwriter and musician. This CD shares much of that with us.

The music here brings an appreciation for life on the seashore and the mountains and is indeed in many ways a celebration in music that children could enjoy. "I Celebrate Life!" is the second track. The first one is an instrumental called "Ferret Frolic," which is also a great tune full of life and the vigor of the curious.

But there's more than that. Some of the lyrics such as "I celebrate life when I'm crying and I celebrate life when I'm dying" are a little wonder-making, but if you take yourself out of the secular world for a moment to explore this, it's easy to absorb. If you'd rather not, this musician always gives you the choice to just enjoy the music, he's that good.

Most of the tunes are dulcimer and sometimes have added bodhran, guitar or percussion. A few quick takes on the tunes follow. "Cracking Open a New Century," a timely piece; "Byword Tower," a marching tune; "Pining Hearts," oh so, so achy. "First Snow" -- how music can capture the silence of snow falling, I don't know, but it happens right here.

"Portage River" almost sounds like a jig. Two fiddling sisters join in, Carole and Teresa Lundgren, flowing and ripply, just like a river. With "Summer Storm" a wind builds under our ears, fluttering, swaying, whooshing and waving. There's "Jumping Java," with amazing finger work. "One Sweet Sabbath Breath," music of release. "Dancing with Wu-Li" is inspired by a book and it's a worthy dance tune followed by "The Old Shoe Waltz," a beautiful tune offered in gratitude to dulcimer player Esther Kreek.

"Elk in the Meadow," with bodhran, remembers a Scottish games day with cloud then sunshine breaking through. Kaitlin, Eulberg's daughter, joins him with her sweet young voice on "We Are an Answer to Prayer." "Snowbow at Sky" sounds fairy-tale magical.

Eulberg has a lot of fun with this CD and so did I. I really enjoy when liner notes actually have a bit written about each composition so we can share more of the music and jog our imaginings.

This is a collection that covers some 20 plus years of musical accomplishment and makes a joyful and pleasing sound. There are inventive and innovative tunes here that belong with the best folk/roots collections. There is a tune book by the same name that players can watch out for.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Virginia MacIsaac

31 May 2008

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