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Dancer with Bruised Knees

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Critics' Reviews

amg review
The sisters' second album didn't meet with the same amounts of high praise that their debut album allowed for, but the McGarrigles have rarely every been about critical appraisals. This album shows a genuine love for traditional music -- not to mention a marvelous sense of humor and a skill for the melding of multiple genres into one living, breathing entity. Excellent musicianship abounds on the album, no doubt aided by players like bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe, John Cale, Dave Mattacks, and Pat Donaldson (both British folk luminaries from Fairport Convention and Fotheringay). A few cuts on the album simply opt for the traditional route. "No Biscuit Blues" is a rolling, short, happy take on traditional blues with the sisters' vocals providing solace above the vaguely hippy-dippy instrumentation. "Hommage a Grungie" takes a similar route using piano blues with a bit of a back-porch honk and a woozy disposition. It's often the piano-led, more dramatic pieces that work best for the sisters. "Kitty Come Home" is a searching piano piece with a slight vocal waver and a building of intensity that comes through the warm organ accents and harmonies. It's a dramatic, pleading song. "Southern Boys" is also set at the piano, but there is no pleading on this track, although there's plenty of drama. Easily the strongest track, the eerie melody has a chorus that seems to glide in from reverse. As momentum gathers, the melody begins to rock evenly back and forth and a drunken structure is established. This is a fine ode to the South. There is an unevenness that comes through on many tracks on the album. The leisurely approach and reliance on occasional silly lyrics often make the album sound a bit too frilly. One wishes there were more tracks like "Southern Boys" or "Blanche Comme la Neige" (a traditional tune that is one of the strongest interpretations on the album due to its reliance on the vocal interchanges and light orchestration; it drifts from traditional French folk to British folk easily and successfully). No doubt this is a fun record to listen to. It's hard to deny the merits of a French/Canadian/hippie folk record. But there is certainly a difference between a record that is fun, well-meaning, and excellently played and one that is great. ~ Jon Pruett, Rovi