Kathy Kallick,
Reason & Rhyme
(Copper Creek, 2003)

Kathy Kallick is an integral part of the west coast progressive bluegrass scene that has spawned such artists as Laurie Lewis and Tony Furtado, among others. Any follower of the contemporary bluegrass scene will have seen her name in liner notes many times, although recordings under her own name are far fewer than her supporting appearances. She has also created children's music with enough scope to appeal to parents as well. On Reason & Rhyme, Kallick steps out in front to deliver 15 songs, most of which she wrote or co-wrote. Two traditional numbers ("Lone Pilgrim" and "Handsome Cabin Boy") and Kate Wolf's "Trumpet Vine" fill out the bill.

Kallick's voice reminds me a great deal of Maggie Roche's, albeit with something of a twang. The intelligent songs would not be out of place in the Roches' repertoire either. Kallick often sings of love and relationships. "I Once Loved" breathes a sigh of relief at being alone and rid of love's entanglements while cataloguing past lovers and love's qualities. After love affairs like those chronicled in "Coastal Fog" and "Good to Me," being alone seems like the better alternative. Then there's "Love You on a Train," which considers the romance of travel. "Trumpet Vine" celebrates enduring friendship, while "Hard to Let Go" wrestles with the challenges of change. "Take Care of Your Little Girls" takes on child abuse, but gives its narrator a happy ending. The album's poignant closing track, "Bring Me Back to You," depicts the musician's traveling life and the writer's art while affirming closeness with a loved one left behind.

Kallick's associates turn out in force to help on Reason & Rhyme. Supporting her are such luminaries as Nina Gerber, Laurie Lewis, Scott Nygaard, Herb Pedersen, Todd Phillips, Tom Rozum and Sally Van Meter. Names like these ensure that this CD is full of excellent music, strong material performed with skill and style. The style is mostly acoustic folk, with "The Words You Don't Say" out-and-out country and "Lone Pilgrim" a spare old-timey song. All the lyrics are included in the liner notes and there is a track-by-track listing of musicians.

Reason & Rhyme is a thoughtful and enjoyable album. Kallick has created a collection of songs that use well-chosen images to convey matters more often expressed in psychobabble. This CD is evidence that Kathy Kallick should step out in front more often.

- Rambles
written by Jennifer Hanson
published 12 June 2004

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