Hmmmmm…sounds like a companion release to Danny Elfman's Nightmare Before Christmas, doesn't it? Well, it ain't, but Henry Delaney-Potthoff has a sense of humor on him and entertains facts and illusions in fictionally odd characters in the lead cut…though, of course, in Harmonious Wail's well-known swinging' mellifluity. However, this CD, their latest, departs pretty significantly from what has been experienced in earlier releases, esp. Nonchalant. There's more a carny / cabaretic feel laced with a good deal of folk. That's not to say the former is gone entirely, not at all, but The Wail seems to be more reflective this time out. In fact, The Vegan Zombie's Lament appears to be almost…novo-cabaretic? Whoa.
This mode gives chanteuse Maggie Delaney-Potthoff a chance to relax a bit, to range more fulsomely through her range, from Doris Day numbers to da swinging' shtuff and on to fantasical arabesques of romanticism in Temptation. Beautiful voice, beautiful choices. And, as is customary, the band likes to cover at least one of the more modern gems, this time it's the classic White Bird from the very neglected It's a Beautiful Day. Many forget that an important part of the original track was the mandolin (uncredited in the original release, but I'm guessing it was guitarist Hal Wagenet), which Sims Delaney-Potthoff has covered without needing a violin.
Then of course there's the bodey-oh-doh of I Can't Believe You're in Love with Me and the cool kid's song of He's Ole He's Six, about a precocious-beyond-belief youngling who avers that "God's a chick", the piece a kind of fanciful companion piece to Vegan Zombie, replete with Maggie's scoobly-op and the sort of way cool stuff you'd hear on one of those great Putamayo releases or maybe even Sesame Street. In fact, much of this CD is kid friendly, No Mama being another cut in line, and will serve to etch a lazy reminiscing smile on adult faces. In tandem with all that, Daniella Willett-Rabin's waaaaaay neat cartoony cover painting is a delight, something that would grace the front of one of those sophisticated children's books that make even parents stop in their tracks.
This is one of four reviews of Harmonious Wail releases. For the remainder, see here, here, and here.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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