The Rusticators,
Talking with the Dead
(Isart, 2004)

The sound of the Rusticators is an eclectic combination of many genres from pop to traditional, but the result can best be described as "great." The lyrics are well written and on most tracks are messages to anyone living in the modern world.

This CD of 13 tracks -- it's amazing how many albums have that superstitious number of songs -- is a brilliant showcase of this talented duo of Chris Amsler and Abbey Linfert, with all the numbers coming from the performers, jointly or as solo writers.

One of my favourite songs, "Journey to War," is an beautiful evocation of how the wars we see so blandly on TV impact the participants. It reminds us that the casualty, physical or emotional, from either side is a human being just like you or me.

"Wicked Ways" is a fascinating song about unfaithfulness and betrayal. The power of words is evident on "Jersey Street." You can visualise the scene, feel the heat and tension of meeting and the joy of companionship.

The title track, "Talking with the Dead," is a strangely upbeat song. On first hearing I thought it was a modern take on "The Lover's Ghost," but then I wondered if the person is dead or just gone. It certainly bears close attention and is a very melodious track. The ambiguity continues into "Son of Mine." It sounds like a letter from the afterlife to a child from departed parents, but it is far from maudlin. Then again, is it a father who simply deserted the child? The magic is that you do not know.

On the final track, "Silver Toes," we are not in such doubt. This song is dedicated to Paul Olsen and, with lines like "We miss you down here, wisecracks and the kindest heart, you still make us smile," it certainly sounds like a tribute to a lost friend who has gone to better things.

The entire album is a joy to hear. The lyrics, production and performances are top class and deserve to be heard by a wide audience.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 2 April 2005