Misty River,
Live at the Backgate Stage
(self-produced, 2001)

Misty River will make the listener misty-eyed with beautiful renditions of old and new songs. Here are fresh-voiced ladies giving new life to the older tunes and introducing some excellent new works with a highly accomplished backing.

"Black Pony" opens the set at a lovely pace that will have all but a wooden leg tapping time. There is no time to get your breath back as they power on into "Desert Wind," written by Kate Wolf. The harmony vocals work to very good effect here.

The well-known "Roseville Fair" is performed to perfection on this CD, again with the beautiful use of harmony and guitar. They then introduce the obligatory fiddle and it can raise the hairs on your neck. As so often, an old tune takes on new life as we sit and listen to the words that so often just wash over us with over-familiarity.

Bluegrass comes to the fore on the driving song "The Old Home." Then there is the only self-penned track on the CD, the self-titled "Misty River." Listening to this tune makes me want to hear more of their original work. It is a lovely story-song.

A cappella singing from a good female group is a magical experience. It is enhanced here by the inspirational lyrics of Rory Block on "Heather's Song," a life-enriching song that gives true meaning and worth to music.

"Ashokan Farewell" must be one of the most beautiful tunes written in the past century. It conjures up all sorts of visions and wonderful feelings, and the simple guitar and fiddle combination cannot fail to move the hardest heart. Some will always associate it with the TV series on the American Civil War, but even if you never saw that, give it a listen and I guarantee it will haunt you for days. The production on this CD is one of the best that I have not heard, but experienced.

Gillian Welch's song "Red Clay Halo" is a fabulous piece of social comment, and Misty River gives it great service, with a lovely interpretation and a good beat.

The CD closes with "America the Beautiful" sung a cappella -- once more, a well-known tune becomes a revelation as the magical voices bring new feeling to it.

This is a group that I would love to experience in live performance. Failing that, I'll be happy to hear some of their studio work.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 29 March 2003

Buy it from Amazon.com.