This is What You Get
(Lamp Lighter Music, 1999)

This Is What You Get from acoustic duo Efatha; about 60 minutes of music from 17 tracks (three of which are hidden tracks). Efatha is Scott Hertzog on vocals and acoustic guitar with Christine Lafferty on viola. Additional musicians are Jeff King on keyboards, Bill Lewis on pennywhistle, Steve Smoker on bass and Eric Foster on drums and percussion, with Dave Zoll providing drums on "Christopher's Morn," "Miracle Called Free," and the hidden tracks.

Apart from the viola part on "The Cliffs of Moher," Hertzog composed all of the songs and music. On the five instrumental tracks, Lafferty's viola holds sway with majestic richness. The opening track, "Hymn of Solitude," is solemn, contemplative, and evokes images of light streaming through branches in a quiet glade. The other instrumentals are strong pieces as well, particularly "Taith I Nef," opens with calm chords and distant vocalizing, then transforms into a lively lovely melody featuring musical lines woven as intricately as Celtic knotwork. "Memories of the Waterfall" is evocative of the subject, and in "Cliffs of Moher" Lafferty's viola rolls with poignant longing, perfectly underscored by Hertzog's guitar. "Sailor's Jig" has a classically traditional sound.

When accompanying some of the songs, Lafferty's viola takes a supporting role rather than a subordinate one, swinging effortlessly into the background for the song "Christopher's Morn," and providing a melodious counterpoint to Hertzog's rough-and-ready voice. The combination works seamlessly.

Hertzog's lyrics are introspective, the thoughts and words of a man on a spiritual sojourn. At times, the songs are almost opaque, the lyrics sliding by the ear without catching hold. Sometimes, though, the images are nearly crystalline, as in "St. Mary's Street," which portrays a person who has let someone down and been forgiven; it is a portrait of a personal relationship with God which is expressed unselfconsciously and even exuberantly. "Let the Rain Fall Down" is another powerful song with a strong spiritual component and "Wish" also reaches the listener on an empathetic and personal level. Hertzog's vocals work best when he is singing a song which is more of a narrative than philosophical questioning; the edge is more finely honed .

The three hidden tracks from Efatha's demo tape Snared in Chains are a treat. "5 Roses" contains remarkably vivid lines such as "Late in the evening white cats play with fireflies." "Far Far Away," another hidden track, is purely fun and Kristen Alonso's vocal on the final track "Sand Sculptures" is a knockout finish to the CD.

There are rough patches on the CD, as if Efatha hasn't quite settled into its sound. That being said, This Is What You Get is obviously put together with care and reflection. Looking for something that will challenge you? See what you get from This Is What You Get.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]

Buy it from Amazon.com.

Check out Efatha's Web site.