Pamela Wyn Shannon,
Nature's Bride
(Girlhenge, 2001)

It's hard to imagine Pamela Wyn Shannon in a studio. It's equally hard to imagine her wearing a frown.

It's not that her album, Nature's Bride, lacks polish. It is well produced and studio perfect. And it's not that she presents a giddy or naively optimistic attitude, either. It's just that, when singing, Shannon sounds like she always has a slight smile on her face.

Consequently, there was a slight smile on mine, too.

Shannon spurns the angst and anger so common in folk music. She makes that clear in the first song, "World in My Arms."

Damn to the years of melancholy!
To dwelling in your misty grey hours with a longing in my belly.
Damn to the catalog of weepy songs,
That I held as my companion for far too long!

Listening the first time, I pictured Shannon performing, not in a studio, but in a friendly cafe. The more I listened to her lyrics, the more I revised that image, placing her instead in a wooded clearing, a guitar in her lap and her back against a tree. She is very earthy, with a love of nature that soars in her songs.

Nature, nature, take me as your bride,
You're the only one I know who proves constant and alive.

And if she approaches her music without naivete, she still retains a sense of childlike innocence.

I don't wanna be just a fresh air kid,
Wanna live where I breathe, wanna breathe where I live.

Shannon doesn't sing alone, but the backing musicians never overwhelm the sound at the heart of this album: a girl with a lovely voice, a guitar and a creative streak a mile wide. The violins, Irish flutes, Middle-Eastern drums and other instruments backing her up add richness and fullness to her music, and yet I believe she'd be nearly as entertaining in a solo gig.

Shannon is a free-spirited singer who brings a fresh voice, a Celtic spirit and a jazzy flair to folk music. If she can keep from becoming jaded by the industry, she should be a star to watch for many years.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 2 November 2002

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