Doug Mitchell,
Count the Stars
(Kingston, 2004)

Right from the beginning of Count the Stars, you know you are listening to country music. And while the songs focus on relationships, they take you to different viewpoints along the way.

Doug Mitchell's vocals have a slight nasal twang that slides into the music and suits the songs quite well. He also plays the acoustic guitar, banjo, keyboard, percussion, bass, recorder and piano. He is joined by a variety of musicians, including Peter Finkle (lead guitar, electric lead guitar and rhythm guitar), Wayne Brewer (pedal steel guitar), Billy Glynn and John Williams (piano), John Davies (six-string, double and fretless bass), Erik Ringstadt and Darryl Preston (electric lead guitar), Roger Williams (dobro) and Steve McPhee, Doug Watts and Jim Bitetti (drums). Balanced against the lyrics and vocals, their steady play keeps the songs moving.

"Cries in the Dark" is a quiet love song, and the music underscores images of deep passion in silence. The quick and lively "Shy Away" passes along the singer's advice before the songs return to the theme of love. The graceful "Count the Stars" focuses on the highs of love, though it does touch on the cycles that occur. Guitar and percussion drive "Born to Win," an up-tempo look at the role luck seems to play. The short musical intro to "By the Way, I Leave Tomorrow" sets a tone of longing and sorrow that is also in the lyrics. This longing is transformed by second changes in "Becky Wright," with the tone of the music hinting at the hope in the song.

From new beginnings, we go to potential endings in "Time to Say Goodbye." The music has a light blues touch through the chorus that fades in the verses. The guitar swirls around the lyrics of "Lost in a Hurricane," building the sense of confusion that fills the song. "Just Like Friends" bursts with an energy that the vocals just barely rein in, and it is hard to not want them to go full out. Hope fills every words of "Waking with the Sun," while the recorder and keyboards bring out the meditative side of the song. "Going South" closes the CD with one last love song, and the music keeps the song on the lighter side of things.

Count the Stars is a solid CD and a pleasant listen. It quietly builds on itself, track upon track, and the songs flow well from one to the next.

- Rambles
written by Paul de Bruijn
published 9 April 2005

[ visit the artist's website ]