Barebones & Wildflowers,
Days Will Go By
(independent, 2003)

Sometimes, it's not so much about the new ways in which things are done; it's about the comfortable old ways they're done with talent and enthusiasm. Barebones & Wildflowers has both in abundance.

The heart of this band -- Steve Palmer and Rachel Handman -- is a remarkably gifted duo that slips original songs into their repertoire like most people slip on comfortable shoes. Some people might complain that folk singers should perform only songs that were written long ago by another hand and have become a part of the tradition -- but as most singer-songwriters will attest, composition is a vital tradition, too. And Palmer, who writes the majority of the band's songs, has a relaxed and easygoing way with a lyric and a guitar lick that makes his compositions sound like folk standards.

So far as I can tell, Palmer and Handman have gone their separate ways since Days Will Go By was recorded, and the band has faded into memory. It's a shame, truly, because it's rare to find a voice, guitar and fiddle that mesh together so sweetly. Thankfully, they recorded three CDs during their brief time together, so Barebones & Wildflowers will hopefully remain in the folk music world's consciousness. They are far too good to be forgotten.

by Tom Knapp
6 September 2008