Rachel Bissex,
Don't Look Down
(One Take, 1995)

This CD, more than any of the others I've received so far, makes me glad I started writing for Rambles. Any of the other CDs I've gotten for review so far I might very well have picked up on impulse, had I found them in an out-of-the-way record store or flea market or anywhere else that I occasionally find hidden diamonds in the rough. But there's nothing on the cover art, back or front, that would have caught my attention and made me curious, and that's a damn shame.

Rachel Bissex has a voice that's sweet and soulful, without the studio dressing that so often hides the real sound of a musician's voice. I suppose this kind of musical honesty, for lack of a better phrase, stems from the blues influences that hide deep in the background of a few of the songs here. Mostly, it's jazz-influenced folksy music, with sparse musical accompaniment; a few horns here, a dulcimer there, maybe a guitar or a piano. It gives the music a raw and simple feel, and one that's immensely refreshing in a day and age of overproduced, mass-manufactured crap filling the airwaves.

Bissex covers a range of subjects in her songs, from romance to memories of her mother to road songs and a great deal more. One of my favorites is "Wildflowers," a song about, oddly enough, wildflowers, and how they seem to grow everwhere, no matter how unusual the location. They're personal, and emotional, and poignant, and quickly engaging. Quite simply, Don't Look Down is a jewel of a CD, and I recommend it without reservation.

[ by Sean Simpson ]



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