Kathy Kallick,
My Mother's Voice
(Copper Creek, 2001)

Here's the perfect Mother's Day present if your mom happens to be into folk or bluegrass music. Kathy Kallick's mom, Dodie, was a Chicago folksinger during the folk revival of the 1950s-'60s, and this is Kallick's tribute to her, a collection of songs she learned from her mother. It's a delight, with plenty of fine guest artists backing up Kallick. Here are a few highlights of the 17 tracks:

The CD begins with "East Virginia Blues," on which Kallick duets with Lynn Morris, and Ron Stewart adds a third voice with his deft fiddling. It's great to hear Peter Rowan again on a laid-back "Hello Stranger," the old favorite, "Banks of the Ohio," and an eerie "Shady Grove," on which he and Kallick are joined by Darol Anger's fiddle. "Rosewood Casket" has singer Keith Little and Sally Van Meter providing some tender slide guitar. Van Meter also appears in a blues-laden "Willie Poor Boy," with Norton Buffalo blowing some dandy harmonica. There are a number of duets with other female singers, such as Suzanne Thomas on a moving "All the Good Times (Are Past and Gone)," Claire Lynch in "I Never Will Marry," and Laurie Lewis on "Wreck of the Old 49."

Kallick joins forces with some couples as well. Jones & Leva, as well as banjoist Bill Evans, help with a superb "Cotton-Eyed Joe." Jody Stecher and Kate Breslin aid in "My Home's Across the Blue Ridge Mountains" and "Row Us Over the Tide," and Kallick has a wondrous "I'll Fly Away" in the vocal company of Tom Bekeny, Avram Siegel and Amy Stenberg. The blend is gorgeous. The final track, "Web of Birdsong," is a lovely composition and a perfect way to end a maternal tribute.

The only thing Kallick might have done to improve this album would have been to give a little more solo room to her vocal guests, since most of them seem to be there to provide harmonies on the choruses. Still, it's Kallick's album, and hers is the voice that should be heard. That voice is a fine one, and her mother would be proud. The song selection is wonderfully nostalgic, and those who grew up during that time will hear some songs they haven't heard in years. So come May, here's that perfect gift for Mom. Heck, get it now and then you'll have it when the time comes!

[ by Chet Williamson ]
Rambles: 9 March 2002

Buy it from Amazon.com.