Season of Change

Stan Moeller and
T.S. Baker

(GF70991)

Go Figure Records
P.O. Box 6515
Portsmouth, NH 03802-6515

A Review for the Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange
by Roberta B. Schwartz
(rschwartz@oeb.harvard.edu)

Southern Maine's dynamic acoustic music duo, Stan Moeller and T.S. Baker, have produced a stunning work in their newly released CD, Season of Change. A unified whole which explores the nature of love in all of its stages and seasons, Moeller and Baker are unafraid to examine love's darker edges as well.

Stan Moeller provides the skilled guitar work, some lead vocals and backing harmony. Baker sings in an expressive voice filled with richness and color, soaring into a delicate higher register with ease. Adept at playing a full range of instruments, from guitar, to accordian, to mandolin, this duo is in no need of a full backing band.

While the pair's strength lies in interpreting their own original acoustic tunes, they are equally at ease crossing over into other genres, including blues and jazz. In a contemporary music scene where artists are continually defining their own unique niches, Moeller and Baker are that unusual brand of all-around entertainers who can seemingly do it all.

In a recording filled with finely-honed lyrics and tight vocal harmonies, it is difficult to pull out a few favorites. Season of Change, the title song, features Baker on vocals and guitar in a lovely mood piece where imagery detailing the arrival of fall and the coming of winter abounds:

"It's turning like a leaf in the wind
that's where it begins
see how it spins
A shadow stretched across the lawn
is suddenly gone
time to move on
time to move on
time to move on...."
Moeller's understated accompaniment on acoustic guitar lends just the right amount of support.

The moody, unsettled tone set by the opening tune continues into Red and Blue, which visits the almost relentless mix of tragedies featured on the evening news, accompanied by the "lights [that] are red and blue."

The River describes a walk by the water on a sleepless, dreamless night. Stan Moeller takes lead vocal with T.S. on lovely, backing harmony. But the best thing about this tune is Baker's accordion, which accompanies Moeller's driving guitar. The combination provides a kind of mysterious urgency.

One of the recording's best songs is Turn the Ochers Green, based on a true story immortalizing the great, good deeds of one individual. It tells the story of Paul Rokich, who grew up in the copper camps that destroyed the surrounding landscape. Over a period of years, this man snuck onto the land in order to plant trees. When his work was finally noticed, the copper company offered him a job so he could continue the work he had begun. This tune fits into the tone and theme of the recording in that it is a story about love for the land and all living things. Baker's impassioned lead vocal brings us into the center of the tale.

"Line in the Sand" once again features Baker's skill on the accordion, which lends a bittersweet melancholy to this song of loss:

"we can say never again
They can deny that it happened
But in the end
can what's lost
ever mend?
Put another stone on the wall
They say it's good for us all
We can pretend
but the truth
doesn't bend."

The back to back tunes Can't Carry This and She's On Her Way appear to be companion pieces - the former chronicling the end of a relationship with its process of letting go, and the latter describing the actual leaving and moving on. Once again Baker mines this heartbreaking landscape with moving, touching vocals, while Moeller's subtle guitar offers the right amount of support.

Close Your Eyes closes the recording with more than a ray of hope. It is a love song which finds the lovers drifting off into sleep,

"and as we slip away
into our dreams
it's really not as frightening
as it seems."

In keeping with the current trend in recording acoustic music, there are two, brief hidden tracks on the recording.

After listening to Moeller and Baker's Season of Change, only one thought comes to mind: with a work as original as this one, why aren't they better known? I have a feeling that this recording may change all that. Take a listen.

Edited by Paula Gregorowicz

Copyright 1998, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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