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CD REVIEW: Bandy Lou - Fire Season
By Chip Withrow - 10/24/2007 - 01:04 PM EDT

Artist: Band: Bandy Lou
Album: Fire Season
Genre: Acoustic Folk/Rock
Sounds Like: old-time blues and folk/acoustic jam band
Technical Grade: 8/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 8/10
Songwriting Skills: 9/10
Performance Skill: 9/10
Best Songs: Gold Things, Fire Season, Luck Fell Thru, Clay Lady
CD Review: I listen to this organically delightful disc, and I picture one of my favorite scenes: sitting around a campfire, singing, playing, and digging music.

The opening “Gold Things” is old-timey blues, finger-picked on a single acoustic guitar. To bring the hootenanny full circle, the short reprise “Silver Things” closes the disc. The beautiful “Ash William” has a similarly timeless feel, but folkier and decorated with melancholy slide guitar.

“A Ghost!” sounds almost overheard and hauntingly nursery rhyme-like, bouncing over peculiar percussion. Songwriter Mike Borgsdorf has a knack for odd, image-rich lyrics: “Tangerine tie-dye on white summer sky/who smashes your camera and hangs it to dry?” is an apt example.

The loping title cut, anchored by driving hand percussion, and the driving bluegrassy “Luck Fell Thru” are two of the best cuts. Imagine an unplugged but still potent jam band. “Broke Bread” is more electrified, with a hypnotic late-‘60s-style organ, but in the same groovy, pulsing category.

I like “The Fool” for the hilarious references to dorm-room partying antics: “…the RA stops and sniffs the air outside the hallway.” It’s similar in style to “Luck Fell Through” but with a touch of Indian raga adding to the illicit fun.

“Clay Lady” and “Woodcutter’s Symphony” find Bandy Lou digging at the roots of Americana again, this time to a dobro (I think). On “Clay Lady,” over insistent shaken percussion, Borgsdorf tells a quirky tale. I picture backwoods folks worshipping some kind of icon: “Here goes into the sacred forest/you hear the spooky chorus.”

Bandy Lou’s Fire Season makes me think of both the Smithsonian Folkways series of archival recordings and Blind Melon’s all-too-short run in the ‘90s. Music like that makes life more fun and interesting.

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