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CD REVIEW: Jerry Gontang & Tony Irvine: Left Coast
By Ben Ohmart - 05/21/2007 - 10:34 AM EDT

Artist: Band: Left Coast
Genre: Folk
CD Review:
The Left Coast have created a new genre, one strongly needed in our stressful society. Some might call these island songs novelty, but they’re not listening hard enough. No, the 12 songs here are Vacation Songs. That’s the new style. Vacation.

One of the best performances has to be the laconic harmonics of ‘Ukulele Lady’ written by Gus Kahn. I know this song, but I can’t place it. It’s from a movie, right? (Meet Me in St. Louis or The Man With Two Brains?) Anyway, Gontang & Irvine sing as one split voice and really withdraw all the sleepy power from this classic. They’d be hard-pressed to find a better track for a single.

The cd is short, but obviously and affably affirmative, a playful Tom Sawyer adventure without hick country music. You see, this is truer than folk. ‘Trying To Hide’ has all the earmarks of old world music ­ smooth vocal and occasional harmonies that grow upon themselves, violin or fiddle, ¾ guitar, taking about what ‘all the seasons have meant’ ­ but the tunes speak more as an acoustic dream for a blue country day. One of many beautiful cuts off the tree.

And of course there is the signature sound ­ the island sounds of ‘Take Her to Jamaica’ with its samba beat, high-falutin’ flute, usual and professional acoustic guitar, and either vibraphone or slight steel drum, plus extras. This of their self-style has to be my favorite. ‘Take her to Jamaica where the rum comes from / and you can have some fun!’

You can. You can have a lot of family fun with this collection of originals, traditionals and covers. Take your woman or man and the kids and load up this cd in the player on the way to the dock, where your cruise ship awaits. It is a smashing inoculation for all the sea-breezing joys yet to come.

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