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Michael Kammin - Cold Pines

Cold Pines

Michael Kammin

Available from CD Baby.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker
(progdawg@hotmail.com).

Kammin is a down-home folkie oscillating between easy rural informality accompanied by semi-untutored vocals and impressive fingerpicking a la Kottke but with a different melodic sense often embroidered with unusual lead runs and side ornamentations. Half the CD is instrumentals, half very rootsy paeans to lower-middle class aspirations, woes, and contentments. What's most striking is the obvious mechanical dissections Kammin engaged in, coming up with a such a wealth of striking inner play. Tearing the instrumental compositions down, he inspected each for the most striking permutations, then put 'em back together in a way that makes the listener suddenly catch himself and mutter "Whoa! That was a trippy approach!"

Palermo is a great access point for his sung material: simple, direct, sincere, and detached in a way that puts an extra chill to the lyrics about war. It leads directly into Too Warm for Wearing Black, the cut best displaying his sympathies for mid-West vernacular and subtly turned phrases ("The relief on her face is the rain on an August day" is one great example). The CD isn't, however, recorded as brightly or careflly as the work deserves. Like Michael Hedges, Kammin possesses a top edge that's crucial to his expression. Too, the slightly hazed tang tells me the mike distances weren't gauged accurately. On the other hand, he himself isn't entirely polished either. Despite a set of songs that quickly grow on you, he's a young cat still in his woodshedding phase, which lends an attractive rawness but also informs that the best is still to come, probably a couple years from now.

Track List:

  • East Versus West
  • Cold Pines
  • Sooner or Later
  • Ernie
  • The Sad Htel
  • Sea Legs
  • Prairie Town
  • Snealkers
  • 2nd Chair
  • Palermo
  • To War for Wearing Black
  • Short on Goodbyes

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

Copyright 2008, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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