Tom Paxton,
Looking for the Moon
(Appleseed, 2002)

I love this CD.

It is years since I heard a new Tom Paxton album and I am delighted that he has lost none of his magic. He is the true gentleman of folk music and, using excellent lyrics married to a gentle delivery, he is irresistible.

From the opening track, "Looking for the Moon," he captures your attention and never lets go. Here is a simple love song that draws the listener in with that combination of lyrics with excellent vocal and instrumental backing. The very simplicity of this sound could not be possible without top professional input.

"My Pony Knows the Way" is an old-style cowboy song for the 21st century. Paxton reminds us of the movies of youth with references to Billy the Kid and Lash LaRue and then brings us into a tale of hard drinking.

"Easy Now Easy" is what Paxton does best. It is a beautiful tale that we can all relate to. It's not war or politics or epics. This is a family song for the end of the day as we recall the mundane matters of life but how important they are to us. "The errands all run, the kids all in bed, the things you feared most never happened at all, but it's awfully hard to let go."

The track "Homebound Train" is one of the saddest songs I have heard in years but it is addictive listening as he sings of a 10-year-old going home to a dying father. "I said my prayers as children do, please God please God it's up to you."

I was transported to my conception of winter in Canada somehow when I heard "Early Snow," in which Paxton is joined on vocals by Nanci Griffith. "My Oklahoma Lullaby" is not a true lullaby -- it's a little pacy for putting people to sleep. Anyone who has ever tried to sleep in a strange bed will know what it feels like. But like all Paxton songs, it has a lovely story to tell and this is of regret on times gone, never to be recaptured.

"Come away with Me" is one of those lyrical songs that take characters from myth and history and weave them into our everyday lives. Anne Hills adds a haunting dimension to the vocals on this track. "Marry Me Again" is another of those simple romantic songs that we would love to have written or least be able to sing to the love of our lives. "You would never guess how much I love you unless I confess."

"The Bravest," written on Sept. 24, 2001, is one of the best tributes I have heard to the firemen of 9-11. Paxton brings a raw emotion that raises hairs on the back of the neck as he sings about "firemen pounding up the stairs while we were running down." Having watched the horror on TV I am struck by the human element in the lyrics that hit home the message that these ordinary men "must have seen it coming when they turned to face the fire, they sent us down to safety, then they kept on climbing higher."

All 13 tracks on this CD deserve individual mention -- every one is a gem that must be heard -- but if I do that it will take up the entire review page. All I will say is "Welcome Back, Tom," and I hope there are loads more albums to come.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 11 January 2003

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