Posted by: suek2001 | July 31, 2012

Born at the Right Time by the Kingston Trio-an album review..

I had a blog that was dedicated to music reviews but I haven’t written in it much..Part of the problem was I discovered the way I listen to music has changed. I listen to songs and not really albums…

Well, I made an exception…

The Kingston Trio’s “Born At the Right Time” is worthy of anyone’s collection. This is a wholly new album..no rehashes of old standards by the group but all new material..at least to them.

The group has been around for more than 50 years and seen several line up changes but the heart of great music backed by great voices remains..

 

This time out, it’s Rick Dougherty, George Grove and Bill Zorn doing the honors and bringing the music to the people..

Here is a track by track review:

 

1. Much Better View of the Moon– George Grove takes a playful vocal style on this..with that soft calypso beat and strong guitar making this song of optimism and joy a great opener…and an earworm..I have had this delightful ditty stuck in my head for hours on end. The lyrics may take a too light approach to some dark situations but the bouyancy of the performance carries it through to the end..

2. Jasmine-This is a a John Stewart tune…from one of his last albums, “The Day The River Sang”..Here, it is delivered with a fantastic vocal by Bill Zorn. Bill’s voice has really rounded out over the years. His ability to carry a song that is revered in the John Stewart fan community, is the album highlight. Also, pay attention to the fantastic harmonies brought by George and Rick. It’s not just a triumph for Bill but a grand victory for all of them..

3.Singing Every Inch of the Way-Okay..I admit I am biased as this song really is a George Grove song to me but Bob Shane’s vocal here is mixed with enough joy and authority that it makes it sound entirely different from George’s version. George’s version is more of an homage to the band he loves while Bob’s is like a vocal resume. Add to the harmonies provided by the others and it is a welcome addition to Bob Shane playlist..plus, the banjo ain’t too bad either.

4. La Migra-This is Rick’s time to shine….a great high Irish tenor voice takes a somber approach to a song about immigration. His lower register conveys the power and emotion of the song and the Spanish feel of the guitar riffs really adds to the flavor of the song. I find it timely in the light of all the news about stricter immigration laws and no matter what side you are on the issue, Rick’s voice really brings the point home.

 

5.Forever and a Day– Another great George Grove lead vocal but the stunning banjo  captures my ears and doesn’t let go. The opening riff brings to mind what Steve Martin once said about the banjo that it can convey different emotions including sadness. George’s playing conveys longing..While George’s lower register is perfect in conveying the sadness of the song, the harmonies that pop up every now and then make this stellar and worth repeating.

 

6. Born At the Right Time– This song belongs to Bill and Rick. Bill’s voice captures the right power for a great song about introspection and satisfaction with one’s status in life….Rick’s voice is really clear on the harmony and that high harmony really soars and with that, it captures the hope and joy of the song.

7. That Song About The River– Rick takes a solo on this one…and his vocal range is really nice here….and George’s lilting banjo augments Rick’s sweet vocal on this one…and anyone who has ever lived near rivers knows the magic this song speaks to.

 

8. Cheri– This is one of my favorite tracks on this album and one of my favorite George Grove vocals of all time. A great, tropical song about lost love…George’s voice has a great romance to it that it just slays me every time. One of my favorite features of George’s voice is when he hits the high notes..and there’s plenty of those notes…Romantic, sad and just plain dreamy….and the guitar is a nice touch….Oh yeah, the others guys were on this too..:-)

9. If I Were Free-Great group number with Bill taking the lead vocal but George and Bill do great on bringing their harmony. I will say the melody reminds me of the KT song “Long Time Gone”…but still this seems like a great sing along song…one random thought about these guys, the harmonies have a way of bringing out the best lead vocal instead of just dressing it up. It’s like Rick, Bill and George bring out the best in each other vocally and so that NO vocal is wasted..

10.River– Rick gets another song about a river…and while it may be Rick’s voice that does this, it had a celtic feel to it and has a nice lilt to it. The arrangement feels crisp and clean. It’s a nice tune but needs a bit of banjo..although to be fair, I beleive most songs could use banjo…

11. May The Light of Love– George gets another great vocal on this on a gospel tune that seems tinged in humanistic vision. I find it interesting that this is the closest they come to a gospel song.  The song is filled with wonderful sentiment and it is a prayer for us to find and reach for the best in all of us and when we do that, our world around us gets a bit brighter. My favorite line is “being ever mindful of the unseen hands that guide us and the miracles that cause us to believe”. Oh yes, and the banjo riff throughout is really a nice touch. I once did a Kingston Trio Gospel show in college and firmly believe this would have fit in that show perfectly.

12. Blackleg Miner– Another great, aggressive vocal by Bill Zorn. Great song in a minor key that adds to the vivid story of a world that has given folk artists plenty of material over the years.

13. Barrett’s Privateers-This is one of the more unusual tracks on this album. It is accapella with Rick on lead. A Stan Rogers tune with Stan’s ghost all over this one. The harmonies are stellar and almost breathtaking. This is also where my one main complaint comes with this album. I understand the atmosphere of this song and yet the phrase “God d-mn them all” appears several times in this song.  For someone of strong faith, that line makes it hard to sing a long to…and I catch myself singing that part. I also find it hilarious that Spotify lists this song as “explicit” and it took a few times to realize the reason. I wouldn’t ask the Kingston Trio to change the song in any way, it just makes it one I learn to avoid as I’m not fond of that one lyric. Great vocals though.

14. Real Old Style– This is one of the best songs on the album. Bill’s mournful vocal is just superb and the quiet banjo part makes the piece all the more poignant. The song hits close to home as the song discusses a family’s love for music as I think my  late aunt who loved the Kingston Trio and would have loved this album.

 

15. Turkish Delight– A weird tune and it doesn’t quite fit after the mournful tone of “Real Old Style” but it fits with the joy and party vibe that Bob Shane has brought to so much of the Kingston Trio..I will say I love the fade out of this song…

 

Overall, this is a stellar album…Great songs on a great album. Some worth repeated listenings while others add to the ambiance. This is not an album for those that want the stomping, rousing albums of the 1960’s Kingston Trio. Rather, it is an album that sounds like what the John Stewart/Dave Guard era would have done had they stayed together and matured. It also captures the sheer beauty of the Kingston Trio of now..

Well done my folk soul brothers..Well done…

You can order this instant classic here:

http://www.kingstontriostore.com/html/music.html

 

 

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