Marcia Guderian Trio,
Full Moon
(Entendre, 1999)

It takes more than interesting lyrics, good music and singing to make good songs. Unfortunately Full Moon proves that by having the elements without the whole package.

The music is good. The trio and the various musicians who guest on different songs for the most part know what they are doing and do it well. The trio consists of Marcia Guderian (lead and backup vocals, 6-string guitar and 12-string guitar), John Flancher (acoustic stand-up bass and electric bass) and Gil Barbee (drums and percussion). And they are good, skilled musicians and I doubt I could find much fault with their playing. Joining them, or rather guesting on the occasional song, are Iris Clearwater (flute), Rick Dunn (pedal steel), Geeb Johnston (fiddle), Hunter Mann (vocals), Richard Marshall (violin), Swil Kanim (violin), Bob McCauley (keyboard), Chuck Seward (vocals) and Barry Ulman (alto sax). There is never more than three of them guesting on a particular song and none of them guest on more than two.

Only once does the music seem to run a bit too long, and that is the flute solo in "Leaves are Spiraling Down," but that is only one moment and for the first part the solo is wonderful.

Likewise, the lyrics do make an interesting read. There are love songs, quirky ("Hologram") and otherwise ("I Miss You"). There are slices of life ("Staying Up & Drinking Coffee") and songs of parting and goodbye ("It Really Doesn't Matter"). And there are a few songs that are more like poems than anything else ("Leaves are Spiraling Down" and "Full Moon").

And then the elements come together and sound like they got stuck in a time warp somewhere and escaped many years later. They probably spent about thirty to forty years trapped in that strange place, and it's too bad they escaped.

There is not much good to be said about far too many of the songs. "Hologram," "Ride Johnny Ride" and "Selling Silence" easily top my list of reasons I don't like this CD, and the others aren't much better. The reason is fairly simple: they sound like they would fit in a "Top Hits of the '60s and '70s" collection.

Despite my overall dislike of the CD some tracks are worth mentioning. My favorites are "No One to Talk to," a sad, simple song about being alone, "What's the Matter Papa?" and "Skinny Cowboy with a Guitar."

The long and short of it is I would recommend giving this CD a pass, unless you happen to like "new" folk music from the '60s and '70s.

[ by Paul de Bruijn ]