Quartette,
In the Beauty of the Day
(Outside Music, 1998)

In the Beauty of the Day is the fourth CD from Canadian country-folk group Quartette. The group is composed of four singer-songwriters (hence the name), Cindy Church, Caitlin Hanford, Sylvia Tyson and Gwen Swick.

There seems to be no assigned role among the four women. Each takes her turn singing lead and each contributes songs to the mix. This egalitarianism makes for a shifting sound that can prevent boredom both in the singers and in their listeners.

Despite Quartette being categorized (by themselves) as a country-folk group, the songs that they have chosen for this CD present an eclectic mix of song styles. The title track, "In the Beauty of the Day" by Hanford, who also sings lead vocals, is quite firmly twangy bluegrass-gospel. I much prefer the folk-based "Sentinel Crow" (Tyson's writing and lead vocals) about the man who is announced by the cawing of the crow. The lower range vocals and heavy hand drums make it a much more interesting song. "E.Z." is a fun, upbeat song to which all four women contributed; it has a smattering of different world sounds.

Continuing the world beat sort of sound is Swick's "I Don't Believe I Do Believe." The first thing I thought of when I heard it was French singer Edith Piaf. It certainly evokes a sidewalk cafe near the Seine. "A Love That Just Won't Stray," on the other hand, brings to mind images of a spotlit torch singer in a '40s nightclub. "I Walk These Rails" sounds vaguely like it's being sung underwater. It's a rather depressing song about an unwed mother whose only hope is in her young child.

In the Beauty of the Day is much like a short-story anthology by a variety of writers. You can't be sure what you're going to get, but there's sure to be something there that you'll enjoy.

[ by Laurie Thayer ]