Midnight Salvage

Dana Robinson

Alcazar 131

Alcazar Music
P.O. Box 429
Waterbury, VT 05676

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Kerry Bernard
(kerry@nbnet.nb.ca)

If someone asked me to define "traditional" folk music, I'd be stumped. However, I might just hand them Dana Robinson's latest effort, Midnight Salvage, and tell them, "That's traditional folk music."

With a voice reminiscent of James Taylor and Ellis Paul, Robinson has produced a CD of calm, peaceful songs which are accompanied, for the most part, by acoustic guitar and which often draw upon nature for their themes. When he points out:

I find you in the white birch grove
I reckon it's why my spirits hove
all a'rosy on your breast
finds you in your social best
Catkins dangle on the trees
you break apart for tiny seeds
and chatter past my window sill
belly full you fly until...,
I find myself thinking, "Why don't I notice stuff like that?" It's obvious Robinson has a keen eye for his surroundings and a talent for transferring what he sees and feels into something tangible for his audience.

Even the names of these songs are sedate: Shady Grove, Wishing Pool, Edge of the Woods, and Lazy June, to name a few. In fact, everything about this CD is quiet and unobtrusive, from Dana's mellow finger-picking to the soft backing vocals added to a few tracks by Lui Collins and Salamander Crossing's Rani Arbo. I wasn't the least bit surprised when I learned that Robinson once lived in a house with no electricity and no phone. He comes across as a no-frills kind of man and you can't help but appreciate his apparent honesty.

There isn't anything earth-shatteringly different about this CD but one notable aspect is that Robinson seems to have had his guitar-playing audience in mind when he compiled the liner notes. Eight of the eleven tracks are played in alternate tunings and the notes feature the tuning and capo placement for each of these songs. This seemed, to me, a very considerate gesture, indeed.

While Midnight Salvage certainly wouldn't be the CD I'd put on first thing in the morning as I try to haul myself out of a sleepy stupor, it would be my first choice if I were looking for something to listen to when settling down for a quiet evening, huddled with a book and a cup of tea. It may sound cheesy but I tried it and I have to say, I was perfectly content.

Track List:

  • Sadie
  • Goodbye MaryJane
  • Shady Grove
  • Midnight Salvage
  • Redpoll
  • Stalk Your Calling
  • Wishing Pool
  • Heaven
  • Edge of the Woods
  • Sweet Dream
  • Lazy June

All songs composed by Dana Robinson except Shady Grove (trad.) and music for Redpoll (adapted from the banjo tune Redpoll by Karen Simon).

Edited by Paula Gregorowicz [paulag@enter.net]

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

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