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CD REVIEW: Lili McGovern - A Bare Calliope
By Don Sechelski - 09/24/2008 - 09:36 PM EDT

Artist: Lili McGovern
Album: A Bare Calliope
Label: One Eyed Turtle Productions
Genre: Acoustic Folk/Rock
Technical Grade: 10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 10
Commercial Value: 9
Performance Skill: 10
CD Review:

There's more coming out of Alaska than just Sarah Palin. Lili McGovern has a new release from Anchorage called A Bare Calliope that's much more interesting. A regular in the Anchorage music scene, Lili works again with studio ace and steel guitar legend, Stu Schulman. Stu has worked with a wide variety of Nashville stars including, Willie Nelson, Doug Sahm, Delaney Bramlett, Sweethearts of the Rodeo, Vince Gill, Dwight Yoakum, Marcia Ball, & many more. Stu brings his magic to bear on some well crafted songs from Lili. She's written all the tunes here except one and sings lead and backup vocals as well as adding some rhythm guitar. Stu plays his trademark pedal steel as well as a variety of other guitars, a sitar, glockenspiel, hammond organ, and a long list of other instruments. Various other players are brought in for specific songs, but this is Lili and Stu's album. His production showcases her songs perfectly.

Track one, Say It Loud, is Lili's proclamation to seize the day. It's bright, upbeat melody beautifully supports her message. Track two, Unnerved, features Stu on guitar for a nice, tasty solo weaving in and out of Lili's clear vocal.  Track four, My Heart Know's, puts Lili's deeply personal lyrics over a haunting electric guitar solo from Stu. When the sitar kicks in, the song takes an unexpected and delightful turn. It's difficult to pick out a favorite track, each one has unexpected little treats          

Lili's songs are beautifully crafted and exude heartfelt emotion. Her lyrics are personal and true. The arrangements from Stu are perfect. The entire production has a quality that points to a very high level of artistry.

I can't finish this review without commenting on the CD package itself. I know it has nothing to do with the quality of the songs but in an era of downloads and no real physical product, this CD package is an artwork in itself. Beautiful, full color artwork adorns a pocketed, trifold outer pack. A glossy set of lyrics is included.

A Bare Calliope is the best thing to come out of the great northwest this year. Sorry, Sarah. 

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