Kat Eggleston,
Second Nature
(Waterbug, 1994)

Second Nature brings us somewhere near to, but not quite "Home," opening with a pleasant arpeggio -- Kat Eggleston's own composition. In her second song, "Trouble," Eggleston switches gears, singing another of her songs in classic Kat Eggleston style. Sailing on a sea of melody, "Paper Boats" drifts slowly along -- perhaps a bit too slowly, at least for my tastes. A change of tone gives this selection the quality of an unremarkable children's song.

The artist's excellent guitar-playing skills heats the atmosphere in "Fury"; however, the voice doesn't seem to be affected by the music and the flame soon burns out. "My Father's Garden" slows down to the breeze of a soft summer wind, and plays like an afternoon lullaby. Personally, I like my folk music to breathe life and inspire, rather than to put me to sleep. Next, Eggleston covers Jean Redpath's 17-century song, "I Live Not Where I Love," reminding the listener of Judy Collins' "Both Sides Now." Regretfully, Eggleston does not have Collins' passion or strength in her voice to carry it off.

Eggleston's own "Trick or Treat" disappoints, as rather than treat the listener with a spine-tingling melody, it tricks them with a mediocre song about food, or at least I think it's about food. Jano Brandisi's "On My TV" adds to the discouragement, with lyrics like "Kind of makes me want to eat some garbage, / Kind of makes my want to break some bones." In my opinion, this prose flounders purposelessly, and lacks the essence of true folk music. "Darling Wake Up," with its quiet and polite tone, lacks the passion that should be portrayed to give depth to the lyrics. "I could shout, Darling / you have shut me out." The voice of one singing these words should be full of anger and yearning.

One of more pleasing songs on this CD is "The Banks of Sweet Dundee," a traditional Scottish folk ballad. Eggleston's voice appears to be more suited for this song than some of the others. "The Stranger" is made from the same fabric of "Home," "Paper Boats," "My Father's Garden" and others, and if you find you enjoyed those selections, you will likewise enjoy this tune. "Day In, Day Out" by Andrew Calhoun provides one of the more memorable tunes in Eggleston's third release with Waterbug, and winds up the disc.

As a fan of folk recording artists Donovan, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, Gordon Lightfoot, Melanie, Peter Paul and Mary, John Denver, Arlo Guthrie (who even has a twang to work with) and Bob Dylan (who certainly hasn't a wonderful voice but can certainly belt out enough passion in a folk song to make it inspiring), I find both Kat Eggleston's lyrical selections and vocals don't rise to the my level of expectation. However, I must admit that the some of the more powerful music strongly appealed to me. I might have truly enjoyed an instrumental version of this disc, as Eggleston's guitar playing is superb.

Second Nature isn't within my nature; however, if you love folk music, you might want to see for yourself if it's in yours.

[ by Lynne Remick ]

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