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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Hannah & Maggie

Muscle & Bone

Review by Gary Hill

Folk music is one of the main concepts on hand here. Clearly a lot of the music can be compared to The Indigo Girls, but that’s far from the only musical reference. However you slice it, this is great stuff.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
As You Wake
Vocals open this without instrumentation and it stays that way for a time. Then the music comes in with both pop and country elements in place. In a lot of ways this makes me think of a more upbeat, cheery kind of Indigo Girls sound.
Keeping Calm the Lives We Know
In a lot of ways this is a more purely folk oriented song. The reference to the Indigo Girls is even more relevant here.
Burlington, VT
Bouncy and yet quite folky, this has more energy than the previous tune and a horn section is a nice touch, too. The arrangement gets pretty lush later with strings added and more layers of vocals. This is great.
Muscle & Bone
There is definitely more of a pure folk element to the title track, but it’s got some strings and overall has a great arrangement. This is certainly slower and mellower than a lot of the set, but it’s also charming and pretty. There’s a real gentle vulnerability to the vocals that adds a lot to the piece.
Sara
Even mellower, again the strings add a lot to the piece and this has a great folk music backing. I’m reminded a bit of Suzanne Vega but with a more developed and pretty vocal arrangement. This might be one of the mellower tunes here, but it’s also one of the best.
City In Between
More energized, this has a lot of that folk meets pop rock element in place. It’s another strong tune, but perhaps not as potent as some of the rest.
Ghost
The music here is quite mellow and almost bluegrass in nature in some ways. The vocals are slow and gentle. Of course, that’s just at first. The cut gets more layers of sound added after one round of singing and it remains a slow moving cut with more pop folk in the mix, but that bluegrass sound remains. We get a slow moving round in terms of the vocal arrangement later. It’s a nice touch.
Little Wind
The horns return early, bringing almost a Beatles-vibe early. It drops down to some seriously country influenced folk music from there, though. Yet the vocals don’t have any of that country. This a slow moving cut with a great arrangement that has a lot of layers to it.
Curfew
There’s not a huge shift here, but there’s almost a slow martial beat to this. A lot of strings are heard in the mix and overall this is a slow moving, but quite soaring number.
Brighton Beach
 Another mellow number, the banjo adds a lot to this cut. It’s not one of the highlights, but still works quite well.
The Room Fiddler
The arrangement here is more developed and has more layers of sound. Yet it’s also got more of the country element at times.
The Quieting Down
Indigo Girls probably makes the most obvious reference here. There’s a lot of energy on this and some tasty whistling later. This is a good tune and has some more country in it at times.
Four Post Bed
Suzanne Vega is really a great reference point here. There’s quite a bit of energy despite that fact that this is still slow and folk-like.
 
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