Russ Rentler,
Scarecrow's Lament
(independent, 2006)

I was highly impressed the first time I heard Russ Rentler a few years ago on the excellently titled Acoustic Minstrel. In 2006, I am even more highly impressed. Rentler has built upon the talent displayed on his debut.

As usual, he combines the whimsical, humorous and profound with a deft touch that leaves even the casual listener wanting more. If you give this album more than a casual listen, you will be rewarded a thousandfold.

Opening with a lovely gentle song called "Prairie Dog Exodus," Rentler will win you over with lyrics that fit just perfectly to a simple backing. The title track is a wonderful, imaginative song that has some top-rung dark humour hidden in the lyrics.

His instrumental prowess is highlighted not just in the note-perfect backing but also on a few instrumental tracks like "Crossing the Tiber" and a marvelous closer on "Be Thou My Vision."

"Waltzing Amelia" is another beautifully written and executed lost love song that will entrance once again with its deceptive simplicity. It's only as you listen that you realise this is an imaginative history tale of the famous flyer. Anyone who has ever driven a car for an extended number of years will identify with another very funny but often true song, "New Car Smell."

"Fool for a Doctor" is one of my favourite tracks here. Again, Rentler hits the nail squarely on the head with great observation.

My one worry about this album is that I am not sure if I understand the sentiments of the track "The Way Things Might Have Been." I leave it to you, the listener, to draw your conclusions. On the other hand, I loved "One Eyed Grandma."

An unusual subject for a song has to be the papacy. But then I suppose in recent years the office and the person has featured in some rather popular fiction so why not in a good song. The track in question is "Room of Tears," and once more Rentler gives us a beautiful insight into how a powerful post can affect an individual. Another piece of recent history set to music and song on this album is to be found on "Black Friday." I leave you to decipher the event or to seek out the album.

Rentler has built on his strength as a top-class acoustic minstrel of 2006 with this album.

by Nicky Rossiter
25 March 2006

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