Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem,
Big Old Life
(Signature Sounds, 2007)

In Big Old Life, old-time, good-time Americana band Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem are all over the map stylistically, as if they were insisting on showing off their versatility. They play a few folkie tracks, an old-time spiritual or two, a Leonard Cohen song, a Dylan track -- anything is on the table. It sounds as though if a song occured to them while they were in the studio, they said, "OK, let's do it" and recorded it.

Is the result unfocused? Oh, yeah.

Is that a problem? No, not really.

For one thing, instead of just singing the songs, they rethink them, try to present them to us in a new way. Cohen's "Heart With No Companion" becomes a banjo tune, while the traditional "Red Haired Boy" becomes an up-tempo fiddle tune where the fiddle and guitar play unison lines, and Dylan's "Farewell, Angelina" receives a jazzy treatment.

They all sound as if they're having a pretty good time. So will you, listening to it.

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review by
Michael Scott Cain

22 September 2007

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