various artists,
Making Music Matter
(Falling Mountain, 2006)

One thing I like about compilation CDs is you can get an introduction to a bunch of artists in a short amount of time. Falling Mountain Music has released its first collection of songs in six years. The artists range from bluegrass to folk to Celtic to world, and the CD is called Making Music Matter. The 20 tracks on this CD were originally released between 1991 and 2006.

The first track could have come off the O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack and makes this compilation worthy of purchase all by itself. Randy Barrett sings about the "Halifax Hills." This baritone picks his banjo to this toe-tappin' bluegrass piece, which has some awesome fiddling in it. Randy has a second track on the compilation called "Hold Me Forever," more of a slow folk ballad. It is also good, and almost up there at the level of "Halifax Hills." Randy can be heard on a third track, the traditional "1845," which is a collaboration with Andrew McKnight and Keith Pitzer.

Speaking of McKnight, he also has one of the better tracks on the CD. "Beyond Borders" is one part folk, two parts world music. This song does not sound like it belongs here, but I like it nonetheless. The guitar melody is hypnotic and there are occasional, high-pitched vocal sounds that almost sound like bird calls. Andrew participates in a couple more collaborations including "Diary" (slow tempo folk) with Mary Byrd Brown and "Red-Haired Boy" (guitar duet) with Michael DeLalla.

Not to leave Celtic music out, there are three tracks worthy of mention. The Bog Wanderers mix fiddle, banjo and mandolin on the traditional "The Faery Reel/Pigeon on the Gate/The Cameronian." You can hear the Wolf Creek Session Quartet put an Appalachian spin on "Bonnie Ship the Diamond/Fermoy Lasses." The CD ends with a live recording of "Opening Air/The Unfortunate Rake/The Road to Lisdoonvarna/Morrison's Jig" performed by the Unfortunate Rakes, who have been making music together for almost three decades.

Like most compilations, there are always some tracks that are not as good as the rest. That is the case here. Fortunately, there are more tracks to listen to than skip. The bad thing about compilations (and again, this is true with this collection) is they can be dangerous to your wallet. You will undoubtedly end up acquiring some of these artists' solo work. Consider yourself warned as you journey in to Falling Mountain Music.

review by
Wil Owen

15 September 2007

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