(Big Heavy World, CD)
Green Mountain music archivist Big Heavy World has released several compilation CDs in the last decade, most of them documenting the local alternative and metal scenes. In Silver Light: Music of Vermont takes a different tack. A collection of acoustic-oriented music, it showcases the state's mellower musicians.
Proceeds from sales go towards the Vermont Music Library & Shop, currently located at the organization's Burlington headquarters. BHW's commitment to promoting and preserving local music has won the attention of Governor Jim Douglas, who offers an expression of support in the album's liner notes.
He's not the only politico on board. The CD kicks off with "A Worthy End," which features public servants Jim Jeffords, Bernie Sanders, Madeleine Kunin and Patrick Leahy each reciting a portion of text from President Theodore Roosevelt's speech at the 1902 Windsor Fair. Local guitarist/songwriter Spencer Lewis provides crisp acoustic backing to the inspiring spoken word.
Lewis' "Reflectin'" gets the second spot on the disc. It's a meditative cut that evokes the transfixing beauty of a steady mountain stream.
The laid-back mood continues with "Hits and Misses" by James O'Halloran. The song's amiable groove and warmhearted lyrics should appeal to fans of feel-good folk.
Karen McFeeters offers "My Only Son," a heart-wrenching song penned for her military-enlisted progeny that has only grown more poignant since its original release in 2004.
Montpelier's indie-folk troubadour Kris Gruen's "In the Clearing" sounds like a modern-day Cat Stevens, while Jess Clemons' "For Mother" is another familial tribute featuring introspective vocals and piano.
Speaking of ivories, Paul S. Webb splits the difference between Gershwin and Debussy with his ornate instrumental "Through the Field."
Dan Zura's Americana-influenced "Jesse" sounds like the aural equivalent of warm flannel. It's followed by the Cush's "Searchin' for the Sun," which places pulsing keyboards and ethereal vocals alongside relaxed acoustic guitar.
Native Daughters deliver the lovely a cappella cut "A La Claire Fontaine," which is bookended by Social Band's own choral contribution, "Serenade." In between is Ken Mahren's "Risky Business," which features masterful fingerpicking.
Other standouts include Paul Webb & Patti Casey's "Stone Boat," a tune both comforting and melancholy. Lar Duggan's instrumental "No. 15" is more on the somber side, with rivulets of minor-key piano.
The album closes with the aptly titled "Goodbye for Now," from singer-songwriter Aaron Flinn. The tune's rich organ and intimate vocals make for a fine end to a pleasant record.
Congrats to Big Heavy World for 10 years of service to the Vermont music community. Looking forward to more.