Saturday, March 10, 2007

now playing:Matt & Shannon & Ian & Sylvia

Matt and Shannon Heaton
offer a fine mix of tunes and songs, traditional and original stuff. The breadth of Shannon’s flute and the depth of Matt’s guitar make for melodies that draw you right in on tunes like The Shady Spot and The Reel of Rio. Of the songs, Harvest Time, inspired by Shannon thinking about her great-grandparents' love story, and Giant of the Road, about the fun of riding a bike, are especially fine originals, carrying on Celtic style melody and tradition in modern day stories. That tradition is revisited and revised a bit in the song from which the title phrase comes. It is called If I Were a Blackbird, and if you’re thinking of the rather staid renditions this tune is often given, well, think again. And listen again.

Ian and Sylvia: Best of the Vanguard Years is another disc that’s claiming my attention. As singers, and as writers, Ian Tyson and Sylvia Fricker Tyson added unique and soulful harmonies to the folk revival of the 1960s, and wrote at least two of the most enduring songs from that time, Ian’s Four Strong Winds and Sylvia’s You Were On My Mind. Those are both here, along with several other fine originals, traditional covers, a few Dylan songs including a take on The Mighty Quinn that presaged the folk rock movement, and songs by fellow Canadians Gordon Lightfoot (Early Morning Rain) and Joni Mitchell (Circle Game). Yes, they are great writers, and great at song selection, but they are also just plain great singers. Not a pair of voices commerce would have joined, I think, but a really inspired pairing, and one to which any writer of songs or singer of harmony should listen.

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


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