Michele Greene,
Ojo de Tiburon
(Appleseed, 2002)

I must admit that my initial interest in this disc was more curiosity than anything else -- to find out if the actress who is best known as lawyer Abby Perkins on the old TV program L.A. Law is really a musician or if this was just a vanity project. Happily, this is the real thing.

Ojo de Tiburon ("Eye of the Shark") is basically Spanish-style folk music, with the majority of the songs sung in Spanish and performed with spare instrumentation defined by Spanish acoustic guitar. Greene's background provides all the necessary explanation to understand where this music comes from. Born to a Mexican/Nicaraguan mother who sang with a Mexican trio for many years, and an Oklahoma-born father, Greene grew up in Los Angeles as she describes it in her press release, "with the music of Hank Williams and Lola Beltran, Johnny Cash and the Mariachi Vargas and Woody Guthrie and Tona La Negra mingling in her home."

"Siempre Volvemos" starts the record with a pleasant melody and sound comprised of vocals, guitar and some quiet percussion. The very intimate sounding production is by Peruvian guitarist/composer/solo artist Ciro Hurtado. Greene sounds in total control on vocals and the English verse mid-song is a nice touch to give the non-Spanish speaking listener a clue as to what the song is about. The liner notes provide lyrics to all the songs in both languages.

"One Day" features some nice violin, with Greene sounding younger than you would think; her singing voice is not readily recognizable from television. From a songwriting standpoint, "One Day" would sound great in any language. An accordion gives "La Tierra Del Alma" an old-fashioned small town folksy atmosphere. "The Ballad of Robert Martin" has a nice violin solo, and "Destino" features a nice solo on acoustic guitar.

Greene co-wrote all of the songs on Ojo de Tiburon, which is a work of artistic integrity that doesn't pander to the pop marketplace in the slightest. This should appeal to anyone with interests in folk, Latin, or multi-cultural music, and yes, maybe even television trivia buffs. Greene's experience as a musician and songwriter began in her teenage years, and although she put music on hold to pursue her successful acting career, she says that she is now very happy to be doing both, "on balance, I'd have to say that I prefer singing more. ... Musicians relate to the world through music, and that is a perspective that I find very appealing." This is a very credible and successful first album from a very surprising artist.

- Rambles
written by William Kates
published 21 June 2003

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