For her latest album, Carly Simon decided to return to some of her musical roots in American folk music. She even unabashedly does fairly straightforward versions of such as Oh! Susanna and I Gave My Love a Cherry. That’s not my favorite area of music so this didn’t strike me as well as some of her previous more sophisticated album themes. (Then there’s her cover photos – nothin’ can top “Playin” Possum” for me – remember that LP? It was banned from some record stores for being too suggestive. My, how times have changed! And how I haven’t…) This one was was recorded rather informally in a studio on Martha’s Vineyard, as various musical friends dropped in. The light and airy, classically influenced, mostly acoustic backing reminded me of some of Judy Colllins early albums. There’s cello, flute, synth strings and lots of kalimbas (thumb pianos) here and there as well as the usual guitars and piano.
Even on tunes that are not my favorites, Carly’s warm and caressing alto is so seductive that I’m hooked anyway. My choice here would probably be her version of the theme from Black Orpheus. She retains the south of the border fantasy by following that with a nostalgic and evocative Jamaica Farewell. Carly’s notes give us a little story about the background of each tune and why it was chosen. And the photos all display that patented smile of hers. Fans won’t want to miss this one.
TrackList: Into White, Oh! Susanna, Blackbird, You Can Close Your Eyes, Quiet Evening, Manha De Carnaval, Jamaica Farewell, You Are My Sunshine, I Gave My Love a Cherry, Devote to You/All I Have to Do Is Dream, Scarborough Fair, Over the Rainbow, Love of my Life, I’ll Just Remember You.
– John Henry