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Patti Casey, The Heart of a Waiting Boy

Album Review

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(Self-released, CD)

Those waiting for a new recording from talented Vermont nightingale and songwriter Patti Casey can finally exhale. After five years, her fifth CD, The Heart of a Waiting Boy, has arrived. And it boasts enough variety and tasteful playing and singing to please anyone, from the dedicated fan to the newbie listener.

In the years since her last recording, The Edge of Grace, Casey has retired from her position as the featured vocalist in the Bluegrass Gospel Project. She is currently a full-time — and by far the loveliest — member of the Woods Tea Company, one of Vermont’s most successful and busiest touring acoustic bands.

Casey leads off her new recording with “Wander On, Weary Soul,” the title track from the Bluegrass Gospel Project’s third album. It’s a somewhat mystifying decision. Both recordings feature her lead vocal, as well as solid, tasteful licks from BGP banjo and dobro master Steve Light. As such, both versions sound eerily similar.

Interestingly, the following track, “Gander in the Stubble,” starts off sounding much like Casey’s “Down From Canada,” a great composition from her 2000 album Under Different Skies. “The Call,” another Casey original, also recalls the Bluegrass Gospel Project — specifically “Poughkeepsie” from their 2006 album Makes You Strong, which also features Casey on lead.

Thankfully, this is where the sound-alike game ends. Some of the joys of The Heart of a Waiting Boy include a great a cappella gospel hand clapper (“Spread Joy Over This Land”), the characteristically creepy “Patti’s-gonna-get-ya” murder ballad “Rattlesnake Knob” and a lasciviously wonderful, country-style original called “A Fool Like That.” The last features a sweet harmony duet with Colin McCaffrey and lovely, understated pedal-steel work by Gordon Stone.

The multitalented McCaffrey also contributes bass, mandolin, fiddle, cello, viola and guitar to the recording. In his spare time, he handled all the engineering duties. McCaffrey’s presence behind the board guarantees sparkling sound, as is the case here. In addition to being a fine songwriter, Casey has a voice that evokes sweet shivers. Appropriately, her vocals are front and center on this recording. With any luck, fans will be able to hear these songs performed live before too long.

Patti Casey’s The Heart of a Waiting Boy is available through patticasey.com.

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