Victoria Parks,
Wild English Rose
(Wild Mane, 2003)

Wild English Rose is Victoria Parks' second release after an eight-year hiatus from her prior release, Sure Feels Like Home. On her new CD, the music has a distinct Celtic influence. Hailing from Columbus, Ohio, Victoria's vocals sound predominantly midwestern but with an occassional English slant.

At first listen, Victoria's voice was a little piercing to my ears. The sound is quite distinct. However, she quickly won me over, persuading me that she has a very pretty voice. In many of the songs she harmonizes with herself, and these moments are truly special. Instrumentally, Victoria is backed by fiddle, mandolin, guitar, hammered dulcimer, piano, tin whistle, bodhran and Highland bagpipe.

The first track, "Brandy from the Cherry," is a true story about the curative powers of a liquor produced in the years of Prohibition. Victoria's grandfather was friends with a bootlegger whose moonshine saved his son from probable death due to pneumonia and diptheria. Does this prove that certain types of alcohol are good for you?

Most of the 13 tracks are Parks originals. The only exceptions are "Cliffs of Moher" (a traditional Irish jig; the second half of track 4), "A Cube of Sugar" (also a traditional Irish jig; the second half of track 9) and "Caroline of Edinboro Town." This last song is interesting in that Victoria found it in a family heirloom that dated back to the Revolutionary War!

There is only one track I am not partial to. Track 9 starts out with "Song for Yule." The chorus is what turns me off most. Hearing Victoria and guest vocalist Ron Price sing "Halloo, Hallay, Halloo Hallay" is grating to my ears. The track does redeem itself when it switches to "A Cube of Sugar" but this jig is awfully short.

Victoria Parks has a nice CD with Wild English Rose. She is a strong songwriter and better than average singer. Considering she produced the CD on her own label -- Wild Mane Music -- I am quite impressed with the quality. Despite one so-so track, I feel Victoria has a winner here.

- Rambles
written by Wil Owen
published 27 September 2003

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