Andrew McKnight,
Turning Pages
(Falling Mountain, 2001)

Andrew McKnight is described as a poet, geographer, historian and naturalist, and the tracks on Turning Pages bear out those claims. From such a polymath we are presented with a varied and wide-ranging selection of tunes. These range from memories of another performer in "Stardust" to a tribute to Hoagy Carmichael in "Bad News."

A personal favourite of mine is "Diary," on which he duets with Mary Byrd Brown. It features Thomas Jefferson speaking to Sally Hemmings and brings history to life in haunting manner.

"Company Town" is one of the staples of such an album, presenting the old tale of the mining industry and its effect on a community. McKnight brings a good performance to the song. History is again evident on the Civil War epoch offering titled "The Road to Appomattox," this time with a folk tempo.

"Jesus and the Nighttime Train" ends with the enigmatic line "whatever comes easy ain't worth the sacrifice," which sums up this lovely song about finding faith in a world dominated by media reports on hopeless events.

There is a track here called "When I Grow Up" and it takes our hopes for growing up that extra step into the future. One expects a tale of the job one wants to do but here McKnight moves it on to enjoying life after the career when he can "retire to the back road, live closer to the land."

The title track, "Turning Pages," appears to be a letter to a partner in a short-lived romance. It has some poetic turns of phrase that lift it to a high level. As with many of the songs, I may be giving a wrong interpretation but that's how I hear it.

Turning Pages is a very enjoyable album, but not everyone will enjoy all the tracks because he uses a variety of styles. I am sure you will like more than you dislike. (Well done also on not only providing the lyrics but also a very important paragraph of explanation.)

[ by Nicky Rossiter ]
Rambles: 21 October 2001