Ten Lucky Pennies

Tom Payne

(WBG 022)

Waterbug Records
P. O. Box 6605
Evanston, Il 60204

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by M Cecil Smith
(mcsmith@niu.edu)

Tom Payne's debut CD, "Ten Lucky Pennies," is worth every cent. Seriously, this is a nice record and one that conscientious folk fans will want to own. I had heard several people say that this was a fine record and I was eager to check it out for myself. I wasn't disappointed, and you won't be either.

There are 14 cuts on the CD, most of them elegant little songs about people out there on the edge of life--the homeless, drifters and winos, hookers, and street troubadours. Others are recollections about simple pleasures ("Whittle 'Em Down") and about the more innocent moments of childhood, like visits to the general store to search for "...the best baseball cards you could find" ("Borrowed Time").

Every cut on the CD reminds you that this is what folk music is really about--stories, confessions, human struggle and personal pain, and--somewhere deep in the center of it--a simple bit of hope for better times. As Payne sings in "Her Own Time": "And when I get to moving fast and I need to walk that line, It's good to know the seeds I sow will grow in their own time..." The songs are closer to traditional than to contemporary folk music (whatever those classifications mean), with an emphasis on straightforward story-telling and uncluttered musicianship.

All of the songs are Payne's own, except for his cover of Chuck Brodsky's "We Are Each Other's Angels." My favorite cut is "Later On." The simple chorus somehow reminds me of all of those folk songs that we grew up listening to, remembering, and humming years after we first heard them: "We'll cross that river...we'll cross that river...we'll cross that river, later on." If Payne's record gets the attention (and airplay) it deserves, we all may be singing this song in the years to come; I think it could be a classic.

Payne is ably backed by a fine crew of musicians: Roger Feuer on guitars, James Michel on keyboards and harmony vocals, and Derek Phillip Jones on bass. Laurie Lewis makes a guest appearance on one cut ("Thirty Pieces of Silver"). Additional harmony vocals are supplied by Jamie Byrd, Keith Greninger, and fellow Waterbug performer, Steve Fisher. In the truest folk style, there is no percussion. The stories drive the music.

Edited by Michele Scherneck

Copyright 1997, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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