Kate Price,
Deep Heart's Core
(Access Music, 1995)

One reviewer described Kate Price as "half fairy and half Gypsy." This is the album that proves it to be wonderfully true. Easily lumped in with Celtic or folk genres by unknowing music chains, Kate Price's music is in fact a mixture of those traditions combined with her own inspired compositions. Indeed, in the liner notes, Price remarks on how she spent many of her childhood nights listening to Bulgarian music, and that flavor has definitely stayed with her through the years.

Deep Heart's Core has a feeling of unity that Price's first album, The Time Between, did not quite manage. Price's storytelling slips well from selection to selection, making the entire collection vibrate with emotion as well as the irresistible beat.

Kate Price again combines ballads and instrumental songs, some her own and some with lyrics or music borrowed from other sources. The entire album is filled with her trademark hammered dulcimer and hummell, the warmth of her contralto voice and an energy which leads from dancing to dreaming and back again.

The first song on the album, "The Labyrinth," demonstrates immediately both how well she can write as and how keen her sense of how music and words work together. The song creates a vivid and almost palpable vision of the journey toward a wedding. A later addition, "The Journey On," proves that the first is no fluke, providing an energetic and poignant portrait of nomadic life.

"Rest Sweet Nymphs," "Si'il a R'in" and "So Ghostly Then the Girl Came In" are the songs which have borrowed lyrics and newly arranged music. "Rest Sweet Nymphs" is a sweet and playful lullaby accompanied by just the right amount of comfort and humor in Price's voice and music. "Si'il a R'in" is a commonly recorded traditional from Ireland, and here Price gives it more beat than is often done, which stresses the narrator's anguish and strength. "So Ghostly Then the Girl Came In" borrows its lyrics from poet Robert Hillyer, and the music is all Kate Price. In this song you can hear echoes of her first album's "Calling Me Home," the longing and delicate, ethereal music making a powerful emotional impact.

Of the instrumental selections, which are fewer than on The Time Between, "Rio Del Corazon" is a favorite, filled with layers of her voice as a wordless instrument and a story which the listener can create for himself. Traditionals such as "Eliz Iza -- Jump at the Sun" and "Sonatina Montenegro" sparkle with spirit.

There were no disappointments with this album for me. Every song leads easily into the next without losing their unique feel, and once again, Price's voice connects the album and emotions together. The entire album is at a higher energy level than her last, and the shift works well. There were many moments when first listening to the album for the first time when I was moved to boogie a little around my room, or at the very least chair dance, which for me illustrates just how much power a CD can have.

[ by Robin Brenner ]

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