Mountain Thyme,
West Virginia Chose Me
(self-produced, 1997)

Mountain Thyme ties its roots from Ireland to the mellow overtones of the band's West Virginian home. They are a group of six women featuring several instruments: guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, electric piano, cello, flute, bass and vocals. They have a wonderful ability to demand the listeners' attention by subtly luring them in with their lively dancing tunes that are performed with a passive demeanor.

West Virginia Chose Me has a great variety of tunes and songs. It opens up with the title track, featuring the guitar as a moving accompaniment. The song is very soothing; however, the vocals have a tendency to be flat. The song also features a violin/flute duet that possesses a charming simplicity.

"Miss Buckingham's Garden," "Frailach" and "'Stacy's' Medley" are instrumental pieces on this album are very well done. They're all very lively and fun to listen to. "'Stacy's' Medley" in particular sounds very authentic, almost like it should belong on the Chocolat soundtrack.

"River," "The Song Will Remain" and "Summer of My Dreams" are all songs, and the harmonies chosen for these songs are appropriate and very nice, but they never seem quite in tune. The ensemble needs to be much tighter in these areas. Of course, this is folk music, and there is a certain authenticity to the sound of an untrained voice, but there is a difference between that and just being out of tune.

Mountain Thyme redeems itself with two wonderful songs, "Kilkelly" and "Wraggle-Taggle Gypsies/Scottish Dream." "Kilkelly" is a familiar Irish song about a son who has lost touch with his family back in Ireland. It is sung as though the family were writing letters to the son in America, and the years pass. The son never returns to Ireland to visit his family, and his father dies without seeing him again. Mountain Thyme performs this piece with a sorrowful passion, as it should be performed. This is by far my favorite track on the album. "Wraggle-Taggle Gypsies/Scottish Dream" is also a vocal piece also done very well. It is very lively, and they make it difficult to resist singing along. The flute achieves some very deep sensual tones. "Wraggle-Taggle Gypsies/Scottish Dream" would have been a better choice for ending the album, instead of "John of Dreams." The instrumental parts in the song are great, but the vocal harmonies are again very flat and unpleasant.

There are some very good aspects to this album, as well as some general things that need to be improved. Overall, West Virginia Chose Me was very well done, and I look forward to more music from Mountain Thyme.

[ by Stephanie Giamundo ]
Rambles: 15 February 2002