Joyce Anderson,
Right Where I Should Be
(Joyscream, 2003)

When I received my latest stack of CDs to review, I could not get Joyce Andersen's second solo CD, Right Where I Should Be, in the CD player fast enough. Those of you familiar with my review of her first solo CD, The Girl I Left Behind, know I thought it was a CD worth acquiring. I was truly interested in seeing if Joyce had improved her craft. Even if it was a similar CD to the first, I figured it would be good!

Joyce does not disappoint! This multi-talented singer, guitarist and, most importantly (in my book), amazing fiddle master, improves upon what worked on her first CD and expands her repertoire in a few ways that pleasantly caught me by surprise. The violin/fiddle is my favorite instrument and Joyce, who has been playing the violin since age 9, aptly demonstrates her talents on both of her solo CDs.

Many of the tracks on the first half of Right Where I Should Be are very reminiscent of her earlier work. While the music is good, my favorite tracks are in the second half of the new CD, particularly tracks 9 through 11.

"I Just Wanna Dance" is, without a doubt, the best selection off BOTH of Joyce's CDs. This song should be released on national radio (if it hasn't been already) -- it has that kind of universal appeal. The song almost (but not quite) reaches the crossover country-folk-pop sound that is popular nowadays. Joyce sings about how she would rather dance her sorrows away instead of drowning them -- she says she'll self-destruct if she doesn't release her emotions on the dance floor. It certainly is a healthy alternative to the norms of eating, drinking or drugging one's problems away.

"Love Finds a Way" is a much slower song than many of the tracks on the CD. What also sets this piece apart from Joyce's other selections is that she plucks at the fiddle instead of performing with the bow. The sound is not quite what you would expect from this instrument, but I really think it works in this instance.

"Strangers No More" is an instrumental duet between a violin and piano. The composition sounds like it could be a classical piece, yet the liner notes list it as a Joyce Andersen original. The melody is very simple and very pretty - and, if you're like me, you'll find yourself whistling this tune a lot.

The bluesy tone of "The Whole World is Doin' It" caught me by surprise. I already knew she has experience with bluegrass, folk and Celtic genres; this song simply proves you cannot pigeonhole Joyce into any one musical style.

She is backed by six musicians deserving mention. Tom Dean handles acoustic and electric guitars and provides harmony vocals. David Surette also plays acoustic guitar. Duke Levine backs Joyce up with electric guitars, mandola and lap steel. Zev Katz takes care of bass and string bass. Frank Valardi keeps the beat on the drums. Finally, Peter Barnes almost steals center stage for a moment or two with his work on the piano.

If you are a fan of the fiddle, you owe it to yourself to check out Joyce's music.

- Rambles
written by Wil Owen
published 29 March 2003

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