David Parry,
The Man From Eldorado:
Songs and Stories
of Robert W. Service

(Borealis, 1993)

The various elements that form The Man From Eldorado are all excellent. David Parry is a great singer and guitar player, and the musicians who accompany him are also skilled performers. Finally, the poetry by Robert W. Service is enjoyable. (In case you aren't familiar with Service, he wrote "The Cremation of Sam McGee.")

The thing is, those separate elements don't always shape into wonderful songs. There are some songs on this CD that are great; however, there are some others that are not so hot.

First, the good: the four poems and/or introductions read by David Parry are enjoyable. (Unfortunately, the words are not printed with the CD.) "The Atavist" makes a wonderful ballad, but having the lyrics handy would have been nice. "The Volunteer" and "A Song of Winter Weather" are both good war songs, and both capture the emotions of the poems. "The Petit Vieux" is probably the best song on the entire CD. It is a simple, beautiful song about growing older and its lyrics blend smoothly into the music.

Unfortunately, there are some pieces on the CD which don't quite work. "In Praise of Alcohol" keeps sounding like a hymn. "L'escargot D'Or" does not quite make the transition from spoken word to song smoothly enough to be enjoyable. The music and the lyrics of "A Pot of Tea" and "Accordion" seem to be at odds with each other.

The music tends to flow gently and smoothly, and is often simply one or two instruments to accompany the singing -- on one track, the snare drums, on another the piano, or the piano with a couple of other instruments mixed in.

The CD is, for the most part, an enjoyable listen. Too bad it is not quite good or consistent enough to be "must-have" material.

[ by Paul de Bruijn ]

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