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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Mike Potter

The Turning

Review by G. W. Hill

Folk music in America is a time honored tradition. Mike Potter carries on that tradition with style and charm. Lyrics are as big a part of folk music as the music itself, and Potter shows himself to be an expert at creating songs that possess a real universal appeal. He speaks for virtually everyone, calling up emotions and observations that ring true for most people. That’s a real art form.

Musically Potter’s style is probably closest to John Flynn, but the references don’t end there. Everyone from Jackson Browne to Willie Nelson, Gordon Lightfoot and even Arlo Guthrie can be valid comparisons at different places along this musical road. Yet, never does this feel anything but original.

In The Turning Potter has produced a nearly perfect album. Fans of folk music should love the disc, but it can appeal to a wider range of people, too. It calls up emotions and feelings that should prove universal.

Track by Track Review
Standing Still

A delicate folk melody starts “Standing Still” on acoustic guitar. Potter’s voice has a delicate authenticity as it joins the arrangement. This calls to mind a very mellow folk style, perhaps akin to something from Gordon Lightfoot. It’s quite a pretty number and a nice way to start things in style. It features female vocals (Linda Quon) in a duet on the choruses. That’s a great touch.

I'm Moving On

The little accents of guitar soloing (along with the full guitar solo mid-track) on “I'm Moving On” provide bits of blues and country. The song feels a bit like a cross between Willie Nelson and John Flynn, and that’s a great combination. Potter’s vocals are especially powerful on this number.

Parallel

The mix of sounds on “Parallel” are closer to Willie Nelson and Gordon Lightfoot blended together. It’s a gentle number that has a mid-tempo pace. It’s a bit more energetic than some of the other music presented in the set.

5th Avenue

This has great “slice of life” lyrics. There’s some nice retro keyboard work on the piece, and it’s really an interesting change of pace that leans towards the sounds of Willie Nelson at times.

Life

“Life” is well-titled as it seems to randomly list little things that make up a life. It’s got a gentle folk sound and feels like something Jackson Browne might do.

You're My Wildest Dream

This is the most upbeat number on the set, in terms of lyrical content and musical arrangement. It’s a catchy folk tune that calls to mind Jackson Browne and John Flynn at the same time. As the title suggests, it’s a love song.

This Time

Potter really plays the contrast game well here. He moves from the most upbeat song of the set, and a love song at that, to one of the saddest pieces on the disc. “This Time” tells of the heartache when the last try to make it right fails and sees the end of a relationship. It’s incredibly pretty and emotional powerful and one of the best numbers on a disc with no weak songs.

Paddy's Without Paul

This number continues with the sad songs. Its lyrics are about reflecting on a friend who is no longer living. It’s about the lessons learned from wise old friends. It’s about the hole that’s left behind in places frequented by friends. It’s really about life. And, while the lyrics aren’t the point of a music review, the lyrics to this cut are so tied to the strength that they would make it work no matter what the music was like.

Shawmont Station

“Shawmont Station” continues a folk tradition of train songs. It’s sort in the same lyrical territory as Arlo Guthrie’s “City of New Orleans.” Musically it’s closer to country music, though. It feels like something John Flynn would do.

Old Soldier

Potter starts “Old Soldier” with unaccompanied singing. As the music joins, it has a slow moving pace and calls to mind Gordon Lightfoot. It’s another sad cut, but there is also a bright side to it, sort of a bittersweet message.

I Still Feel That Way

Intricate guitar sounds lead off “I Still Feel That Way.” It’s gentle and pretty and has all the familiar influences in place. It’s one of the happier tracks, lyrically, as it’s a love song.

The Turning

The title track is an intricate and pretty instrumental that closes the album with as much style as it had at the start.

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