Where It All Begins
(AndeGram, 2001)

Reviewing music is an adventure, especially when there is little or no promotional material or previous knowledge of the performer. This means that one must give a number of listens over a period of days to get the full flavour and do justice to the recording. And, let's face it, I love finding new music by new artists, before opening this CD I had never heard of Anderson-Gram.

This, the duo's second release, is the pick of the latest crop of CDs. Where It All Begins caught me from track one and I must admit that while some songs are better than others there was not a single piece that I did not like.

Anderson-Gram is a husband-and-wife duo from New Hampshire and they remind me -- on some tracks especially -- of Ian and Sylvia Tyson. "Alabama" is a song where the "Tyson sound" is most noticeable. The song is a hymn to that location and love found there. It is beautifully written and sung with lines like "A little smile, a little tear in his eye / A little love song, sung off key."

"This Guitar" is a tribute to the life of the traveling musician, with the initial chorus written from directions given on how to find their next gig. "Three Chords & a Cloud of Dust" is a witty look at the other side of the musician's life. It recounts the tale of the performer playing for tips in a bar, competing with the game on the TV in the corner. How many of those are out there? It contains the immortal lines: "He even wrote a song in the summer of 69, though it makes no sense and it's too damn long, God only knows what we were on."

The folksiest tune on the album is "One Dying Breed," which tells the sad tale of the fishing industry being destroyed by the government. This is a sad story poetically told. Other tracks tackle people who do not fit in, sports heroes with feet of clay and fighting the demons of modern life among others. The only song by another writer is Kate Wolfe's "Give Yourself to Love," which again is new to me and it is a real gem. It was apparently used by Gayle and Bob (the given names of Anderson-Gram) at their wedding and if it gets the air play I can see it becoming a wedding day standard.

A welcome feature of the CD is that each track -- all but one self-composed -- has a short explanation regarding its origin or inspiration. This is a very personal album but deserves a wide listenership.

Where It All Begins is a fabulous album which, with a spark of luck and good airplay, could be where it all begins big time for Anderson-Gram.

[ by Nicky Rossiter ]
Rambles: 22 September 2001

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