Kate Price,
The Time Between
(Priceless Productions, 1993)

Before beginning this review, I must admit a slight bias -- I heard Kate Price's second album, Deep Heart's Core, before her first, and therefore had the usual reaction of comparing the older work to the newer release. Though there is a definite shift between the two albums in terms of polish, The Time Between offers an invitingly introspective side of Kate Price that is not so present in her second effort.

I first ran across Kate Price in one of the many new-age-crossed-with-Nature Company stores two years ago. I was poking my way through the array of Yanni and Loreena McKennitt, looking for something new, when a particularly perky salesclerk recommended Kate Price. Admittedly a little leery of his rather zealous attitude, I was also struck that such vehement support might be warranted. So I picked up her second album. After a long listen and the elation that always comes with discovering a new artist, I hastened to run out and buy her first album as well.

Often compared with Loreena McKennitt, Kate Price's The Time Between does indeed mirror that artist's style, but Price also retains a signature sound which could be composed by no one else. Price depends, to wonderful effect, on the hammer dulcimer, hummel (a predecessor of the hammer dulcimer) and piano for the melodies backed up by a strong rhythm represented by a bodhran or the lilt of an accordion. Her low, sweet voice mingles well with the instruments to create rich ballads and multi-layered instrumental pieces.

This album is basically half ballads and half instrumental compositions. My own bias makes me wish I could hear more of her voice, but I also admire the intricacy of much of the instrumental work.

"Calling Me Home," the first cut, is the best example of her original lyrics and careful music blended together to create palpable emotion, in this case the longing for a mysterious, unearthly lover. Out of the instrumental moments, "Tango of the Flowers" provides a light and crisp vision of Mexican evenings. "The Lady and the Eagle" and "The Stolen Child," lyrics borrowed from Mark W. Lewis and W.B. Yeats respectively, are each fine examples of how Kate Price modifies a preset text to fit her own intentions for the song. I particularly loved "The Stolen Child," with its spare dulcimer and mesmerizing rhythm echoing the haunting words of the poem.

Despite the strength of the album as a whole, there were a few disappointments. "Peaceweaver," although a noble idea, comes across as a little awkward in its combination of painful lyrics and a rather upbeat melody, and the next selection, "Death of the Queen," is so similar that it seems to slip by without any recognition of its independence.

Kate Price's voice, however, manages to weave the entire album through with a personal and resonant thread of emotion, and this is what makes it so strong. Whether creating a sense of yearning, fear, or enchantment, Kate Price is unwavering in her ability to touch the listener's heart.

[ by Robin Brenner ]