Marie-Lynn Hammond,
Impromptu
(1985/1994; Vignettes Media, 2000)

This is fun!

Canadian folksinger Marie-Lynn Hammond opens the liner notes to this album with an apologetic reminder that these tracks were only intended as demos which, for whatever reason, she never went back to polish to perfection. Good, I say! While I've heard nothing but good reports about Hammond's other albums, this is a relaxed, easygoing look at a talented singer-songwriter with a jazzy flair and a bold repertoire.

There are evocative titles here, like "Second Fiddle Rag," "I Don't Sleep with Strangers Anymore," "Menopause Blues" and baroque-sounding "Period Piece (The Rag Song)." Song topics include girls who cannot commit, the perils of Canadian romance, Catholic school dances, irradiated air, the joys of being an aunt instead of a mother (which, as Hammond proudly indicates, successfully rhymes "Raffi" with "Muammar Qaddafi"), the various appeals of men on bicycles and the problems with younger suitors.

Throughout 17 tracks, Hammond sings with a strong voice and a clearly evident sense of fun. At times, the songs are poignant, but usually she's going for the grin factor. She seems the sort who'd be wickedly good entertainment in a small, crowded pub or cafe. Sometimes, she sings in French just to confuse us.

This album is actually a re-issue of older material, coming from the similarly titled LPs Impromptu (1985) and Impromp2 (1994). Thanks to Richard Hess, a Los Angeles, California, fan who initiated the resurrection of Hammond's music, and Hal Davis and Laura J. Haney, a pair of Dayton, Ohio, suppporters who, according to Hammond's notes, made this re-release financially possible and saved these songs from music limbo!

All in all, Impromptu is a welcome addition to my folk music collection. (My only regret is that I sent her other albums off to other reviewers to enjoy before I knew better!)

[ by Tom Knapp ]



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