Matt & Shannon Heaton, |
Blue Skies Above
On Blues Skies Above, husband-and-wife duo Matt and Shannon Heaton combine traditional tunes and lyrics with their own compositions. They are joined on various tracks by guest musicians Sam Amidon (banjo, fiddle), Paddy League (drums), Jamie McClennan (fiddle), Emily Smith (accordion) and Laura Cortese (harmony vocals).
Shannon is an accomplished flautist, which -- having had no few lessons myself -- always gets my attention. Her voice is sweet and a tiny bit breathy, which normally turns me off, but hers quickly grew on me.
Matt's light voice is the perfect complement to his wife's sweetness, and perfectly suited to his original composition (and my favorite track) "Giant of the Road," about a young bicyclist. He also provides guitar, bouzouki, mandola and bodhran (and bicycle).
Other than "Giant of the Road," standout tunes include "The Blackbird," a traditional tune to which Shannon has added a fourth verse (from which, incidentally, the CD's title is derived) and "Death & the Lady," another traditional song for which Shannon has provided a new melody.
The CD's liner notes provide information about each track as well as the inspiration behind the tunes.
I have to confess that this CD did not impress me the first time I heard it. Same old, same old, I thought. But repeated listenings have changed my mind. For one thing, it's not precisely the same old. This is a toe-tapping, upbeat, fun collection, just the sort of CD I would recommend if you're having a lousy day; pop it in and lose yourself in the Blue Skies Above.
10 May 2008
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