by Dan Harr
There are times I listen to a song and say to myself, “that would make a great soundtrack for a movie.” With Martha Redbone’s latest release, The Garden of Love, I found myself saying that again and again as I listened to the songs on the album. Starting with the mist-shrouded, bayou murder mystery I see playing in my head conjured up by “The Garden of Love”, to the down-on-his-luck Appalachian ‘shiner walking down the dusty road with his head down in “A Poison Tree”, the songs on The Garden of Love are simply that powerful in the imagery and feelings they evoke.
I don’t mean to imply that the lyrical content is specifically describing the soundtracked “movies” I‘m seeing. Instead, it’s the “feel” of the music overall which makes me think of everything from teen angst TV shows like One Tree Hill or Beverly Hills 90210, to a wife-left-at-home civil war movie like Cold Mountain. In “I Heard An Angel Singing”, I envision the femme fatale who finds herself sitting alone in a church pew as the weight of the situation sinks in. “How Sweet I Roamed” made me think of the moment in Fried Green Tomatoes when Jessica Tandy looks over at Kathy Bates and, without a word and only a slight smirk on her face, lets out Idgie’s secret.
The Garden of Love is a 12-track CD filled with moving songs that are masterfully crafted and performed with near perfection. The dark and haunting melodies, written by Martha Redbone, Aaron Whitby and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s John McEuen, are flawlessly set to the words of 19th century English poet William Blake. And Redbone’s smoky, soul-filled vocals are ideal for this roots project album. I really don’t want to sound like I’m gushing, but I’ll be danged if I’m not into my fourth listen from start to finish as I’m writing this review.
There is only one thing I can think of that should be added to this album… the words “Part One” to the title. This CD leaves me wanting to hear whatever comes next from Martha Redbone, and I can only hope it is something equally as deep in its words and strong in its melodies as The Garden of Love.
I say BUY IT and enjoy it while closing your eyes and letting the movie reels start turning in your head.
For more about Martha Redbone, visit her website at www.martharedbone.com
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