Terry Kitchen,
Right Now
(Urban Campfire, 2002)

Terry Kitchen is a folksinger who reminds me of the best of the genre. He has songs for all seasons and provides a social history of our time.

"Billy" is a track that he calls "the alternative Valentine." It concerns a young boy giving a valentine card to a male friend and the views of his mother on the matter. You need to hear it to appreciate it. "The Sweet By and By" is one of my favourite tracks on the CD. It reflects on love growing older but not colder. Love is not the sole demesne of teenagers.

"Inside" is a rocky, country-style tune that also has a lot to say about the modern miss. We usually see her as confident, strong and determined -- "looking good, not a hair out of place, confidence written all over her face." But as Kitchen writes, "inside she's all butterflies, young girl sighs, late night cries." As an added bonus this song is sung a cappella as the final track. It is interesting to hear them as almost two unrelated songs.

"Garden in the City" brings us Kitchen as a sort of 1960s protest singer. It was inspired by the sale of New York City community gardens for development. "This garden in the city helps us find our place on earth." Sad times often bring out the best songs and "Peter Pan" is no exception. It is a song about the scourge of drunk driving and the very real toll in ordinary lives. "He's laughing in the back seat, that drunken driver never saw the light."

The mark of a great writer is when he or she comes up with a song that even on first hearing we feel we know it. It can be the tune, the words, the theme or the sentiment. It strikes a chord and after a few years anyone hearing it will consider that it is an old, traditional folk song. "The Bonny Lights of Cavendish" is one of these. It was inspired by the orphans shipped to Prince Edward Island over a century ago and can raise the hairs on the back of my neck any time I hear it.

"Keepsakes" will ring notes of recognition in all who listen. Who has not got "a box full of pictures of me as a kid or a shelf full of carvings that dad and me did." If not those precise keepsakes, we have others and this song reminds us of those precious treasures of junk.

The title track, "Right Now," is written as a reminder that regardless of how bad things are, how down we may feel, at this precise moment in time life is happening. Someone is "tasting their first kiss, making a sacred vow" or "taking a very first step." Listen to this song and remember the good times. "Tomorrowland," Kitchen writes in his notes, was written when at a songwriter's retreat he had to pick three cards and write a song about the words written on them -- a train conductor, killing flies with a rubber band, in Disneyland. Listen to the result and marvel.

These are just a few of the 18 tracks listed on this CD and there is not a bad song in there. Given airplay almost any one would sweep the charts; sadly, few station bosses listen to such gold any more.

You should not miss out by their ignorance, seek this out, play and listen carefully, it will be worth it.

[ by Nicky Rossiter ]
Rambles: 2 March 2002

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