The Granary Girls,
Wild Roses
(Good Grains, 2004)

The first thing that will strike you about Wild Roses is the beautiful artwork on the cover and insert. The second thing that will strike you is the beautiful vocal quality of the singers. The third thing that strikes you is the marvelous writing -- in the main from the Granary Girls themselves.

Opening with the a cappella title track complete with birdsong, this album transports you to sunny prairies of golden corn (or whatever grows on prairies) and natural sounds. Through that prairie comes the "Freight Train." I was particularly struck with the intro of guitar and harmonica. The song is thought-provoking as they wonder what life might be if lived over. The harmonica never sounded so good as on this track. Then they let rip with the fiddle for "Travelin'."

"I Wanted to be a Cowboy" is a marvelous story-song that brings us a short history of the 20th century through the tale of one man. The sentiments of the song are beautifully delivered as they remind us of dreams changed and lives altered; at the same time it confirms the essential jobs like a farmer "growing food for the poor."

The perception of ordinary lives in the songs on offer here is deep but beautifully delivered in a light vein that gets under the skin. The track "White Spotted Black Horse" is a great example. The motif continues on "Diamonds in Her Soul" as they draw us into the life of a lady and her reality of life. The delivery reminds us of Joan Baez in the 1960s when such songs were all over the place. Their relative rarity in 2006 makes this song, along with so many on this CD, all the more important.

"Caramels & Velvet" lightens the pace with a beautiful button accordion accompaniment. The heart of rural living is revealed on "Didn't Have Much." Like families the world over it was the people with little who gave so much -- a trait still evident today when disaster strikes. The lyrics will transport any member of a large family back to that table when "company came."

One of the songs from another pen is the beautifully sad "A Gift of Years," by Bruce Kelly. This is real-life romance set to music with feeling and delivered from the heart. Listen to "Down to the River" if you are worried or depressed by the modern world. It is better than therapy.

Appropriately the album ends with "Goodbye," an ideal encore song that I am sure these ladies often have to sing at a live show. I am only saddened to realise that they live so far away I am not likely to hear them perform. I will make do with this exquisite CD that makes me think, raises my spirits, draws a little tear but remains on my player.

by Nicky Rossiter
1 April 2006

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