A far from desperate Departure

I am going to try and review the Mammals‘ new CD. As I never reviewed a CD before and do not read music literature, and the people mostly reading this blog seem to be my family, I need to explain that as far as I am concerned The Mammals can’t do anything wrong. I am so convinced of that, I fear that even if they did a version of something I really dislike, I would probably like it if the Mammals did a version of it. Mahler’s Fifth symphony would be a good example. Mind you, hearing that played on banjo, guitar, fiddle, bass and drums might make it even bearable or at least interesting. Hopefully I’ll never be put to that test!

For some reason I am mentally calling the CD Desperate. You know desperate/departure aren’t that different, they have at least 6 letters in common. This isn’t a reflection of my opinion; the CD is far from desperate. Unfortunately, as it is the beginning of the semester, it is more a reflection of my current mental state.

I am currently listening to it on my laptop; unfortunately the sound quality is awful. Probably the worst of all the different places I have listened to it. In fact, listening to this CD obsessively made me realize that my old ghetto blaster which I purchased on my arrival in America ten years ago is now passed it (sigh). At least the CD player part is. It was turning into a scene from Happy Days. Like the Fonz and the jukebox, I had to thump my player to get it to work. Even then it sound better than my laptop (double sigh). Fortunately, other than my laptop, my desktop (at work), my stereo and my mp3 player (a Zen Micro) give superb sound quality and I hear different aspects of the music depending which I am using.

Since the CD is a departure (corny, but they did it first) from the previous work put out by the Mammals I had to listen to it a few times for it to grow on me. The more I listen to it, the more I like it. I had heard some of the songs from live downloads but it is interesting to hear what a polished version sounds like.  Now I’ve listened to it at least fifty times, I love every track.  Perhaps another fifty will help me select my favorite song.
Some of the songs have a personal relevance to me – I first heard Don’t go quietly to your grave just after I heard about the death of a good friend and colleague, Andy Hoefler. At Andy’s funeral I read Dylan Thomas’s Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night and Mark Sandman’s song echoes this poem. Also Tao’s voice just does something to me; shivers up my spine, especially in Chan Chan or John Henry on earlier CDs and in Solo Le Pido Dios on this one. I have this “thing? about deeper voices, probably because I would be lucky to a second alto even with laryngitis. Not to disparage Ruth’s or Mike’s singing – their voices are excellent too. Huh, who am I to comment on others’ singing; I only sing when there is at least 4 other people singing my part or if no one else is around.

Things I especially like about this CD are: The CD cover – if the music didn’t show the Mammals’ growing maturity, the cover would; Mike’s lyrics – where to start? I think of one example and then I think of at least three more (just buy the CD); Hearing the acoustic and electric guitars together and understanding a little bit better the differences especially on Follow me to Carthage (or Carthedge as both Winamp and Creative spell it); Tao’s harmonica especially on Come As You Are.

I am looking forward immensely to their show at the Tin Angel in April.


4 thoughts on “A far from desperate Departure

  1. Great review! The sad part is that I do not have there CD yet… boo hoo… I am totally with you about Tao’s voice, but ultimatley I am a Ruthie fan, her voice makes me absolutly melt…

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