Megon McDonough,
Day By Day
(Sirius, 1995)

These 10 traditional folk songs, released only on cassette, are a pleasant listen because of Megon McDonough's nice but unobtrusive guitar and piano playing, a fine sense of original melody which enables each track to avoid monotony, and a very good singing voice that at times is reminiscent of Joan Baez but less distinctive. You can visualize McDonough on a sunny Sunday afternoon in the park, as a strolling minstrel, with a crowd gathering around her and everyone singing along.

But, if you are looking for a heavyweight folk album, with meaningful lyrics, political statements or social commentary with an edge, you will be disappointed in Day By Day. McDonough's "pop" folk lyrics will appeal to people who like the quiet sounds of folk but are more attuned to the sentiments of pop songs such as Jewel's "Hands." While it is never wrong to write about your feelings, relationships and a love of nature, those subjects can come off as treacly and too sweet unless care is taken to include the aforementioned "edge." This cassette makes you wish for a protest song, a little folk cynicism or the satirical humor that many great folkies possess.

To prove my point, on the second track "Serenity Song," McDonough composes a really nice melody but instead of coming up with her own lyrics she takes the famous saying that begins with "God grant my the serenity to accept the things I can not change..." and repeating the entire saying over and over again in the song. It isn't at all original, or stimulating. Yet I forgave her quickly because the track sounds so nice that I even caught myself singing along.

Let's hope that McDonough's part-time membership in Christine Lavin's Four Bitchin' Babes rubs off on her. Just the name of that quartet has more edge and humor in it than anything written, played or sung by McDonough anywhere on Day By Day.

McDonough says on her website that she is hoping to release this set of songs on a CD someday because of the positive reaction she has received while performing them for her friends at a church in Evanston, Illinois, to whom this cassette is dedicated. Obviously the 10 tracks have struck a chord with some people. Maybe I am just too much of a cynic too notice.

[ by Charlie Ricci ]
Rambles: 6 July 2002