Arts + Scene » DVD Review

The Strings of Summer

No Pardon's Whisper


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I'm very proud of our local music scene, and pleased for selfish reasons. Apart from enjoying a wide variety of stellar show options, I also get my choice of excellent releases to review, which works out well for me, as I have little interest in writing negative copy. I have plenty of bile and scorn welled up in the more caustic bladders of my psyche, but I prefer to direct my acidic verbal and written sputum at the politicians and cultural creeps who have actually earned our collective public opprobrium. Artists and musicians, even bad ones, are just out there trying to have a good time.

Thankfully, there are no bad players in No Pardon and only polished talent is on display in the trio's latest offering Whisper. The 12 tracks unspool pleasantly with enough guests to allow the songs to overcome any restrictions or repetition of the trio format. That trio, made up of Rosalind Parducci, Chris Parreira and Amber Grimes, stretches out its instrumental chops over the fiddle, viola, guitar and upright bass in ways that only ever complement, never compete. This may be the invisible hand of producer and engineer Marc Jeffares at work. He has managed to capture the group's sound with the warm clarity of furniture oil and beeswax.

I won't attempt to curate the entire playlist but the album is very well sequenced, with "One Black Crow" serving as a fine opening song and a perfect companion to the album artwork — a painting by Ms. Parducci — as well as the title. An early instrumental, "Gallagher's Frolics," is a nice breather and the almost swinging jig — or is it a reel? I have never been sure about the difference — is slowed down to excellent effect. It serves to nicely bookend a group of livelier vocal-filled tunes, the highlight of which is the lilting "Calla Lilly," with the second instrumental, the meditative "Woodpecker Waltz." We are eventually treated to a cover of a cover, a version of "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding," the yearning Nick Lowe song made famous by Elvis Costello. Like many good covers, this one retains the original message of the tune while graduating the sound into a plucked and minimalistic piece. One of the album's many guests, singer Allison Anders appears on my favorite track, the ethereal "Mary." The song sounds like an updated tune from the catalog of one of my all-time favorite folk groups Pentangle. The whole thing shimmers and vibrates — no small feat with mostly acoustic instruments.

Look, summer's just around the corner and this is a proper linen-on-the-clothesline, blanket-in-the-grass, toes-in-the-water, mid-summer jam. And as we stumble through this all-too frequently wicked world searching for light in the darkness of insanity, isn't that just the sort of thing we can all use? I think so.


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