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Catie Curtis - Dreaming in Romance Languages

Dreaming in Romance
Languages

Catie Curtis

Vanguard 844-2

Vanguard Records
2700 Pennsylvania Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90404

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

Catie Curtis is one of the real treasures of the contemporary singer/songwriter scene. Her voice is so completely engaging and so uniquely different, that it is instantly recognizable the moment one of her discs is put into play. Like the pied piper, she has her legions of fans and admirers who will follow her wherever she leads. Her story songs unfold like the tales of a celebrated novelist. Her acute and personal observations guide us through a world that is warm and loving and true.

Dreaming In Romance Languages marks Curtis's debut on Vanguard Records, where she joins fellow label mate Patty Larkin in the making of music with a lasting and indelible sound.

Curtis opens the CD with a compelling original tune called "Saint Lucy." Sparkling with a catchy pop/rock melody, the song captures the struggle for faith in a stunning string of richly nuanced images and metaphors:
I woke up dreaming in romance languages
Tangled stories by ghost writers
But more like screaming like my eyes in bandages
All around me your flowers

The pain and second-thoughts brought on by life's tough choices take center stage in Hold On. This is Catie Curtis country, where one's emotions quickly rise to the surface in a burst of pleasure or pain. Deb Talan's accompanying vocal blends with Curtis's rising and falling tones in a beautiful duet.

Curtis covers Mark Sandman's The Night, an uncharacteristically dark and moody song for her, which leaves you with chills running up and down your spine. It speaks of the dark night and the thinly veiled world between the living and the dead. It is mesmerizing and moving, all the more so as we move through it with the aching vulnerability of Curtis's voice.

Cross Over to Me, one of the recording's best cuts, is co-written with one of Nashville's finest singer/songwriters, Beth Nielsen Chapman. Full of feelings of yearning and desire, the song describes the need for one's partner when miles and distance keeps you apart. Kris Delmhorst joins Curtis on backing vocals here.

Curtis surrounds herself with top notch supporting players like Kevin Barry on guitars, Jimmy Ryan on mandolin, Billy Conway on drums and Andrew Mazzone on bass. The production by Tom Dube, Trina Shoemaker and Curtis herself is sharp and crisp - allowing each of the session musicians to shine, and placing Curtis's voice and lyrics at the center of the recording.

Dreaming In Romance Languages is a deeply satisfying effort, and the best work to date of a beloved and cherished artist. The endearing Curtis we have come to know - the one with the voice that breaks our hearts and who wears her heart on her sleeve - is still here. But there is a new richness and search for depth and meaning that crosses into new territory. Perhaps we need to follow Japan's example and officially proclaim our artists and musicians national treasures. Catie Curtis is a gift. Dreaming In Romance Languages is a work of art by one of our best performers at the top of her game.

Track List:

  • St. Lucy
  • Deliver Me
  • Hold On
  • The Night (Mark Sandman)
  • It's the Way You Are
  • The Trouble You Bring (C. Curtis/Jimmy Ryan)
  • Cross Over to Me (C. Curtis/Beth Nielsen Chapman)
  • Life Goes On
  • Red Light
  • Doctor
  • Dark Weather
All songs by Catie Curtis except where noted.

Edited by: David N. Pyles
(dnpyles@acousticmusic.com)

Copyright 2004, Peterborough Folk Music Society and Roberta B. Schwartz.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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