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If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you may have been fortunate enough to hear Marisa Malvino either in performance at a local venue or singing and playing among friends at the San Francisco Folk Music Club. If so, you will certainly remember her voice, which is rich, mellifluous, and velvety. The word “unique” is bandied about too often in describing singers’ voices, but in Marisa’s case, it is justified.
Marisa’s new CD, Hold On, presents a dozen songs that are, in turn, sweet and sad, uplifting and sorrowful, clear and cryptic. She presents material that will be familiar to some listeners but to which she brings her own style and sound—songs by Lennon/McCartney (“Nowhere Man”), Jim Croce (“Dreamin’ Again”), Hank Williams (“I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”), Mike Love/Brian Wilson (“The Warmth of the Sun”), James Taylor (“Rainy Day Man”), Van Morrison (“Tupelo Honey”), and Jerry Jeff Walker (“Mr. Bojangles”). She also covers two songs that I suspect will be a pleasant discovery to many listeners. Angela Rose (of Mendocino County’s Blushin’ Roulettes) wrote “Skeleton Woman,” and Wizard of Oz lyricist E. Y. “Yip” Harburg penned the lyrics for “Look to the Rainbow” from Finian’s Rainbow.
Last but certainly not least are the album’s three original songs. These reveal Marisa as not only a wonderful interpreter of others’ songs but also one with serious songwriting chops. The title track “Hold On,” the instrumental “When Words Won’t Come,” and the melancholic “Wasn’t All Bad” stand up admirably in the company of the other well-crafted songs on this album.
The excellent musical accompaniment is provided by John Groves on piano, Calvin Murasaki and Alison Bailey-Streich on violin, Aaron Balano on dobro, Gerald Beckett on flute, and Ed Sherry on lead guitar and mandolin.
Although Marisa’s musical influences are wide-ranging, from Gordon Lightfoot and John Denver to the popular music of the ’60s and ’70s to the Great American Songbook, she has developed a repertoire particularly well suited to her unique voice and style. Her previous CD The Pink House (2000) and Hold On are both available from Skynotes Music; Hold On is also available from CD Baby.
—Marlene McCallROY BAILEY, Tomorrow
Roy Bailey’s newest CD, Tomorrow, is a splendid selection of songs for young and old folks who enjoy good tunes and like to sing along. If you are one of these, the album is for you. Four of the songs are traditional, the balance by contemporary songwriters. (A favorite of these is Peggy Seeger’s “One Plus One.”) And while all are of English extraction, you’ll find it not just easy to join in the singing but almost impossible not to.
Roy’s clear, warm voice takes the lead throughout, with seven other singers in various combinations joining in the choruses. Of these, four are family members and two, Martin Simpson and John Kirkpatrick, are also among the six back-up musicians. Other musicians are Chris Coe, Andy Cutting, Andy Stewart, and David Bailey. Instrumental accompaniments support and enliven the songs but never interfere with or drown out words and meanings. Catchy rhythms add to one’s enjoyment of the whole.
My first reaction on listening to the album was “Why, this is FUN!”—a feeling intensified in subsequent listening sessions as I joined what seemed like old friends to hum along and sing together—and enjoyed it immensely.
The theme “Tomorrow” is emphasized in two songs: “Together Tomorrow” joys in our being “together tomorrow again,” and the album closes with the tender “Tomorrow Lies in the Cradle (with a smile a little like mine)” by Fred Hellerman.
In addition to presenting eleven songs, Roy reads a fascinating poem by John Maguire about the good deeds of “My Pet Dragon,” a dragon to truly admire. You’ll want to get acquainted!