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CD Review: Deborah Osherow

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Deborah Osherow Kalliope’s Grace
(2010, Independent)

The message of Kalliope is the eloquence of epic poetry. This is what makes Deborah Osherow’s 12-track CD doubly beautiful: Naming her first record after Homer’s oldest Greek muse, she combines a love of classic poetry with a love of acoustic Celtic music. After searching through early English poetry for lyrics, Osherow chose those that inspired her most deeply while meshing the best of style and rhythm to harp and guitar. She drew from Yeats, Shelley, Wordsworth, and other early poets, as well as lesser-known Australian ones.

Joined by Hudson Valley favorites T. G. Vanini, James Kruger, Julie Parisi-Kirby, Ian Worpole, and others, Osherow produces a soothing work that brings poetry to life in a fresh and convincing way, summoning nature through vocals, harp, guitar, mandolin, viola, fiddle, bass, nyckelharpa, accordion, and bodhran. “Twenty Gallons of Sleep” introduces Osherow’s sturdy vibrato with upbeat harp and fiddle, highlighting Agnes Louise Storrie’s lullaby equating a drunken sleep to the slumbering of babies with angels aloft. Osherow’s nod to Yeats takes place in “The Fiddler of Dooney,” a fiddle-and-guitar-based tune that repeatedly harmonizes an infectious happy sentiment: “The merry love the fiddle/And the merry love to dance.” Taken from a Ben Jonson Elizabethan stage play, “The Hymn of Hesperus” is an a capella live piece comprised of a peacefully harmonizing quartet. Percy Shelley’s “Spirit of Delight,” a somber, sparse guitar piece, beautifies nature’s dark side. This recording is especially apropos as we await the mystery, magic, and haunting embrace of autumn and winter. www.kalliopesgrace.com.
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