Tracy Grammer,
The Verdant Mile
(independent, 2004)

Tracy Grammer is an artist who has shown a lot of strength over the past two years. Just as she and Dave Carter were on the verge of becoming major stars on the folk circuit, Dave (who had quickly established himself as one of folk music's most prolific songwriters) died suddenly of a heart attack in July 2002. Tracy's strength was evident when she performed at a Dave Carter Tribute at the 2002 Falcon Ridge Folk Festival one week after his death. Tracy's voice and musical talents were a perfect fit for Dave's songwriting. And she was left with the task of preserving Dave's music while establishing herself as a solo artist.

The Verdant Mile is Tracy's first solo release. The songs are nice, simple acoustic arrangements that feature Tracy's beautiful vocals, guitar, mandola and violin, plus Jim Henry's vocals, mandolin and dobro. She describes the songs as "postcards from various points along the verdant mile, a mythical field I walk when I need to reconcile with the rivers I cannot turn, the birds that won't come, and my reluctant angels." The title track is Tracy's beautiful tribute to Dave, and she stated that she wrote the song as a response to people who ask her how she was doing. The song is very personal and sad, and is written in a kind of dark mythical manner that made Dave's songs so great. It pays tribute to the community who has supported her, making references to Richard Shindell's tribute song "So Says the Whippoorwill" as well as several of Dave's songs including "The Mountain" and "Gentle Arms of Eden," which I'm sure helped her get through difficult times.

It is also the first taste we have gotten of Tracy as a songwriter. The other six songs on this EP are mostly covers, including Carole King's "Wasn't Born to Follow." Her rendition sounds quite similar to the Byrds' version. Neil Diamond's "Solitary Man" is slowed down a little, which works nicely with Tracy's ethereal vocals. "Jackson's Tune/Trickster Tale/St. Anne's Reel" is a combination of traditional and original fiddle tunes. "When I Reach the Place I'm Going" and "Dirty Little Town" both sound like they describe Tracy's journey over the past few years. The CD closes with the traditional tune "Old Paint."

While The Verdant Mile has a fairly dark feel, it is only fitting since Dave Carter was a master at writing dark songs. It includes some good covers, and while there will probably be other tribute songs written about Dave, none will be as personal as the title track. It gives us an insight into the journey of a talented woman whose music career took an unexpected turn. Tracy is working on a CD set for a 2005 release, which will be a collection of unreleased Dave Carter songs.

- Rambles
written by Dave Townsend
published 22 January 2005