Rhythms, Rhymes and Tides

Justina and Joyce

(HSP-CD201)
HSP Records

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
By Roberta B. Schwartz
(rschwartz@oeb.harvard.edu)

Justina and Joyce's luscious vocal harmonies shine in their second independently produced recording, "Rhythms, Rhymes and Tides." Hailing from the western Massachusetts oasis of contemporary acoustic music, and home to Dar Williams, Cliff Eberhardt, Jim Henry and others, Justina Golden and Joyce Zymeck have arrived with a uniquely beautiful sound. The duo's voices complement one another and create a perfect blend: Joyce possesses a lovely, clear soprano, while Justina's voice is one of deeper, richer tones. Together they have created a recording filled with gorgeous vocal arrangements, gifted songwriting, and outstanding accompanying players.

Opening with the lovely, poetic "To Live Hand In Hand," the duo skillfully blend their voices in a celebration of love and commitment. With the accompaniment of guitar virtuosos Jim Henry on acoustic guitar and Duke Levine on electric slide guitar, this song is simply beautiful. "Owls" features the lush richness of Justina Golden's expressive vocals. It is a haunting melody which speaks to the courage, grace, and fearlessness of this hunter of the nighttime skies. In addition to the stunning vocal arrangements weaving in and around the melody, the instrumental accompaniment of violin, celtic harp, and cello give this piece a classical touch. The insertion of the call of the great horned owl during the opening bars is a real treat. Joyce Zymeck's lovely soprano and skillful songwriting make "I Don't Want to See" a song that stays with you. Detailing the trauma of a failed romance, the conflicting emotions of sadness, nostalgia and regret all come together here in an attempt to let go of the past in order to move forward. Justina and Joyce take a humorous poke at a former love in Marcia Taylor's "Why Forgive & Forget (When You Can Remember & Blame)." With its corny, old-timey country-based melody, a story of a dysfunctional relationship unfolds - all tongue-in-cheek, of course.

The title song, "Rhythms, Rhymes and Tides" is a thing of beauty. Reflecting the ebb and flow of the ocean, and of human emotions, the always lovely lead vocals of Joyce, with Justina's deeper harmony, touches a place deep inside. The cello accompaniment by Gideon Freudmann adds just the right note of earthiness. "Hold Me Tonight" celebrates the joy of love in the natural world. Images of mountains, birds in flight and running rivers are countered with a darker vision of nighttime, shadows and storms. The song urges lovers to find solace in one another's arms. The steamy heat of sensuality flows through the vocal harmonies and lyrics of "Sip of Water." Duke Levine on electric guitar is particularly fine here. Turning toward the current crisis in women's health care, Jamie Anderson's "One Out of Three" speaks to the issue of breast cancer. With understated, skilled accompaniment by Jim Henry on acoustic guitar, Justina and Joyce's voices soar with passion in this entreaty to stop the epidemic, and to reach out to its many sufferers. The significance of losing our way and finding our spiritual way back home is beautifully expressed in Joyce Zymeck's "A Light to Lead Me Home." The seasons of love, its trials and tribulations, is brought to life in "Synergy." With a more traditional folk sound, Justina's honey rich, deep voice on lead vocals brings this song to life. The recording concludes with an outstanding sixteenth century piece sung in the original French, "Mille Regretz." Joining Justina and Joyce in acapella, four-part harmony are the sweet voices of Cindy Kallet and Susan Herrick. A beautiful ending to a splendid treat of a recording.

"Rhythms, Rhymes and Tides" is a celebration of life and love all wrapped up in the gorgeous vocal harmonies of Justina Golden and Joyce Zymeck. This self-produced venture succeeds in its simple, graceful production values, allowing the voices to remain first and foremost. A talented roster of musicians, all well-known in their own right, support and let the voices shine. Listeners who find their way to this outstanding recording will play it over and over again. Justina and Joyce are that good. Their unique vocal blend is unforgettable, as is this recording.

[Edited by: David Schultz]

Copyright 1996, Three Rivers Folklife Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior written permission and attribution.

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