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CD Review: They Say Let Them Tell Us

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They Say Let Them Tell Us
(Lil’ Pumpkin Records, 2009)
It doesn’t get any more familial than this: Husband and wife record their work—her words, his music and tech-savvy—in their home in 2007. Her words are befitted with “genre-defying compositions” and surrounded by an improvisational groundswell. They Say’s Let Them Tell Us may have a retro sound and feel, but spoken-word artist/poet Alison Black and bassist Jon Davey, both Otsego residents and educators, are very much conversing with us about today and the “now” that we wonder and worry about more than ever.

Each of the 14 tracks reveals a directive, mood, and function. “Give,” punctuated by a smoky tenor sax solo by Jonathan Lorentz, asks us to “give when the journey beckons” and to “give as the child is born.” As a guitar’s pick plaintively drags across its strings, Black delivers “Distance” with as much lament as she writes about. Black, who contributed lyrics to “Cenote Dreams” on Davey’s SoundBites (2005, Lil’ Pumpkin Records), doesn’t bubble with emotions; it’s her delivery that carries drama and weight. Many of the instruments and effects are performed by Davey, as in “The Train Whistle.” He makes use of recognizable sounds of the ol’ West and a thudding eighth-noted bass line. “The Offer” is a conversation with Death that is both eerie and hypnotic. Steve Gorn accompanies on soprano saxophone.

The longest piece, “A Soldier’s Lament” (7:46), discloses the sorrowful existence of someone. It was written by Sean Davey (Black and Davey’s son) and truly makes Let Them Tell Us a family affair. www.johndaveymusic.com.

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