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CD REVIEW: Cactus Highway
By Ben Ohmart - 05/21/2007 - 10:34 AM EDT

Artist: Band: Cactus Highway
Genre: Easy Listening
CD Review:
The cd cover is exceptionally deceptive. From the looks of the guy and gal and their youthful gaits and faces, I fully expected to get 1. alternative rock and 2. a first effort, full of sweat and trials. So much for judging on looks.

After you’ve listened to ‘Asia’, go straight to the ‘Cracker Jack House’ and tell me you’re not impressed. House is only 2 soft and seasoned voices telling the story of this house, as if build of fragile glass and harsh vibrations might erupt it. ‘It was a cracker jack house / and it was build yesterday / The for sale sign went up / and it sold right away / And they’re building another / right across from the first one / They’re exactly the same / Twenty more before they’re done.’ A beautiful song, and a good message. Don’t vote for any politicians unless they want to introduce overpopulation controls (that’s the reviewer’s comment, folks).

Daring to call this an easy listening album, the quietude involved is eager and slothful, going from one singer to the other: man to woman, with café-styled skill. The jazz of ‘In the Morning’ alone is worth the price of your first cup of java. ‘In the morning, as you’re sleeping / I will love you, when no words are needed.’

There may be mistakes of notes now and then, but you really must listen technically and not with a soul to find them out. Andrea Wollstadt has a voice dipped in sugar, cream and a spot of honey on the high notes, in between causing her flute to pitch a frolicsome shade of sweetness on a few tracks. Rod Duquette takes on the drums and vocals for the other half of the tunes. Sometimes they duet or collaborate on compositions, like a good marriage, it’s hard to separate their talents. And who would want to?

Tim Webb on bass, Mark Shilansky on piano, they contribute to the band sound that shows up and doesn’t slow up. Try ‘The River’ for that style. Then go to ‘Mother Nature’ and see that the core of the troupe really only needs itself. Rob doing voice and guitar, Andrea again at voice and flute ­ what more does there really have to be to give the gift of pop in a folk setting? Seems to float into more acoustic pop than folk though, so have fun with it, all ye who enter.


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