These gorgeous songs have a flowing, warm, sweet quality, evoking varying
moods, fond memories, an adventuresome spirit, and close relationships.
The refrain of the title cut, "We haven't yet made shoes that fit like sand,
we haven't yet made gloves that fit like water 'round our hands," flows
lyrically in this original about urban natural living. Taraz's resonant,
unforced vocals are a pleasure. Her French-Canadian roots come through in
her melodious poetry and deep feeling, as in "Fan," "Raisin Pie," and
"Summersong." She's done nice arrangements on traditional numbers, too.
A unique contribution to contemporary songwriting.
-- Maureen Jackson
This recording leaps to a bouncy start with the title song. Taraz admits the strong image around which the chorus revolves was borrowed from painter Arthur Dove, but her own poetry pleasantly pours forth. She even weaves in a line that sounds like a musical quote from Jackson Browne. "Fan" spins a languorous mood using repetition and a tropical sound to evoke the title. "Raisin Pie" is a charming reminiscence set in a dance. In the powerful "Walk Away," a battered woman sings about her fears of leaving her abusive man.
Some of the finest moments on the disc are Taraz's interpretations of Cyril Tawney's "The Grey Funnel Line" and the traditional carol "Un Flambeau, Jeanette, Isabella." She transforms "Grey Funnel" from its usual dirgelike quality to something more like "Dink's Song," vocally soaring and swooping. The disc concludes with "Silver the Moon," a wonderful original lullaby.
Taraz produced the album herself, and the values are always tasteful and
appropriate. She makes good use of a variety of strings and occasional
flute. Johnny Cunningham contributes fiddle on a couple of tunes. This
is (nearly) and hour of mostly soothing, largely pleasurable music.
-- R. Warren
Before the tunes, the lyrics, the accompaniment, there's the voice. That's what leaps out at you in this gorgeous new CD. Taraz has the kind of achingly pure voice reminding one of the young Joan Baez or Judy Collins. Not that she sounds like them, but her voice has that kind of impact.
There's traditional material, such as "Brisk Young Sailor" and the French carol "Un Flambeau, Jeanette Isabella," but most of the songs are her own. And beautiful songs they are, from the love song "Be Here," to the catchy song of childhood memories, "Raisin Pie," which has the added treat of Johnny Cunningham's fiddle.
Don't interpret "beautiful" and "gorgeous" to imply bland or boring. This is an album whose excitement rests in penetrating beauty and a close eye for life's details.
I do not often have time to write "fan" letters, but this is a true exception! Rarely, if ever, does a new singer/songwriter literally jump out of the CD player and make me take notice, but that's exactly what happened the first time I heard Diane Taraz. Whenever I play the album on the air, the phones light up with listeners asking, "Who's THAT?"
It's a tremendous feeling to discover someone I knew nothing about (although I do have the tape from the Gloucester Hornpipe & Clog Society). People seem to be particularly moved by "Silver the Moon."
I, on the other hand, find it difficult to pick one "favorite" from this album. It's all wonderful! Thanks for introducing me to Diane.
Wanda A. Fischer
Producer/Host, The Hudson River Sampler
The debut recording by Pittsfield native Diane Taraz, now living in Arlington, shows evidence of a crisp, clean guitar and vocal style. Taraz fits in with the burgeoning "new-folk" scene, albeit with a strong traditional approach that lends her compositions a classic feel. Her classically trained voice brings to mind such seminal singers as Joan Baez and Judy Collins.