Selections: Zero Objection/The Wreath/Dust & Sand/Heartless/Poor Doe/Hold Back the Sun/He Got the Carrot/Better Learn Now/Perfect House/Wilder Winds/Blue Streak/Call of the Wild/Last Serenade
Thea Ennen and her band are from the Minnesota Twin Cities. Their first album "All Aboard" won the 9th Annual Minnesota Music Awards' - Minnesota's Folk Recording of the Year award in 1994. Their second album, "Hold Back the Sun," is a promising chunk of folk-pop fusion, using Ennen's soft-spoken...and in fact half-spoken...vocals. She is backed by electric guitar and an array of traditional instruments in non-traditional combinations.
The best songs on the album lean more towards folk, featuring lyrics that fuse well with warm, full arrangements. The country-folkish title track, "Hold Back the Sun" (a good candidate for a Hiroshima commemorative) blends Ennen's characteristically low key style with harmonica and acoustic piano. The country-based "Perfect House" dreams of an escape to the North Country ("gonna take a new route") and shines largely due to judicious banjo and fiddle accompaniment. The lyrics to "He Got the Carrot" are just that, over and over...but the track's instrumental is a lovely contrast of acoustic frets and highly distorted guitar riffs.
Perhaps it's her band, The Algorythms, that really carry the album. Ennen prominent piano is reminiscent of Joni Mitchell. Brad Bealka plays bass and piano tuner (?); Aaron Barnell reigns on percussion; Eric Heywood and John Lindell play various acoustic and electric guitars, banjo, hammond and Pump organs. It's Mike Razz Russell's soaring fiddle that sounds so impressive on "Perfect House." Likewise, Jim Price's fiddle buzzes and sings expertly through "Dust and Sand."
HOLD BACK THE SUN is a subtly adventuresome album with interesting lyrics and solid musicianship. It is a promise of things to come from Thea and her Algorythms.