Friday, May 02, 2008

now playing: Tim O'Brien: Chameleon


The most compelling song on Tim O’Brien’s new CD may just be one that comes from really ancient roots -- the cry of the peddler selling wares that’s echoed across time and space and musical form for centuries. O’Brien gets at all that in a song called Menga’s, inspired by his memory of the call of a man who sold vegetables in his neighborhood while he was growing up. But there's something much more ancient going on the there, from the cry of the griot in Africa to the chant of O’Brien’s ancestors in Donegal to the current day melting pot called American folk music.

There’s lots of other good stuff on the record, too. Some of it includes O’Brien’s dry humor, Get Out There and Dance, for example, and some his understanding of traditional music, as To the Garden and Hoss Race, in very different ways. The man can do narrative that holds through changes and images, too: take a listen to Father Forgive Me.

Although he often performs live that way,this is the first time O’Brien’s recorded an album that’s just the man and his instruments. fiddle, mandolin, guitar, bouzouki, and voice. Worth listening to just for that aspect, too, although the stories in the songs will grab you and keep you thinking as well.

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


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