Hot Soup,
Soup Happens
(SOUPer Music, 2000)

Soup Happens, the second release from folk band Hot Soup, features a good selection of original and cover songs. The band's repertoire is an interesting mix, including some old-time tunes, gentle guitar-accompanied folk songs, and gospel and a capella style singing. Hot Soup has a very personable style, reflected both in their singing and in the liner notes to the album (which contained lots of information about the origins of the songs and the band). They even promise to autograph any CDs which are ordered from them directly!

Hot Soup is Christina Muir (vocals, guitar and mountain dulcimer) and Sue Trainer (vocals and guitar). Jennifer Agner is a new addition to the band, joining in time to provide vocals for a few songs. There are a number of guest musicians on the album providing vocals and instrumentation, often including the original composers of cover songs. Notably, Tom Paxton provides backup vocals in a parody of his song "The Last Thing On My Mind".

Hot Soup has a wonderful talent for harmonies, which is apparent throughout the album. "Waiting" and "Soup" are good examples of the band's ability to harmonize, as well as "A Much Better View of the Moon," which starts off the album. "Grandfather's Chair," written by Sue Trainer, is a mellow tune emphasizing the sentimental value we place on things. The thought-provoking lyrics of this song are well complemented by Tony Walker's piano. "Red Kimono" is wacky sort of philosophical song designed to relax and reassure the weary mind. The next song, "Dig Down Down," is sung with only percussion in the background, and features a nice, catchy tune with a toe-tapping beat.

"(Don't Know What Was) The Last Thing On My Mind," a parody of a Tom Paxton song, features the original writer himself on backup vocals (a nice touch). The lyrics themselves are cute -- a little too cute for my tastes, however, but I did enjoy the mandolin. In "Two Fine Friends," Anne Mayo Muir provides vocals and harp for her song, with backup by Hot Soup. This is a beautiful song, and the harp makes a good addition to the album. "New Day" is an inspirational sort of song, while "Sunrise on Carawan Hill" treats us to a nice viola and guitar background to a pleasant tune. "Folderol" is a tongue-in-cheek, light-hearted tune about (of all things) the lineups for women's washrooms during short intermissions. True to life, this song can only be truly appreciated by women (and only some of us, at that). Although the issues raised are valid ones, I can think of things I'd rather hear in a song! (Apparently, a fan suggested the topic.)

The other songs on the album are an interesting mix. "Moonglow" is an a capella song which sounded a little like an old-style radio song, while "Tain't No Sin to Dance" really is an old radio song, originally written in 1929 and renewed in 1956. In keeping with the style, Hot Soup actually recorded this one the "old-fashioned" way, singing around one microphone in the studio, with "do-wops" and all. "From Silence Into Song" is sung in gospel-style a capella, with characteristically good harmonies. The tempo seemed to drag a bit, but it was otherwise a good song. "The Jungle Song" made for a good finish to the album, with its upbeat rhythm and variety of percussion.

With Soup Happens, Hot Soup serves up a hearty helping of songs, well-seasoned with humour and harmony and rich in variety. Capable new band member Jennifer fits in well with Christina and Sue on vocals, and should be an asset to the band on future recordings. These three women are quite versatile with their material, have a knack for harmonizing, and come across to the listener as personable and fun. These qualities should keep fans coming back for more helpings of Hot Soup!

[ by Cheryl Turner ]

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