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Slow Parade

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Molasses Review
Music Monthly—October 2002

Most likely Linda Nelson titled her CD Molasses because of the mention of it in her song “Uncle Buck”. However, I’d like to think it’s because her voice reminds me of it-thick and sweet with a hint of tang.

The songs she pens utilize her vocals to their best effect while the musicians she uses do the same for the accompaniment. You can’t go wrong when you have such players as Billy Kemp, Hoppy Hopkins, John Grant and Mookie Siegal backing you up, just to name a few of the talents here.

As a prime example, “Uncle Buck” is the right way to kick off the CD. A bluesy ode to a Texan uncle who knows how to make scrumptious biscuits, Linda has that Bonnie Raitt drawl in her singing. Coupled with a strong organ and a slinky acoustic slide by Billy, this song has all the earmarks for a down-home blues feast. The sparseness of the background captures all the makeup of Uncle Buck and his talent for biscuits.

“Into The Fall” goes in a slightly different direction. Starting off with a catchy acoustic guitar riff, it falls into place with solid percussion and a great melding of the background vocals. A jazzy fluid guitar solo ties it all together with Linda’s strong vibrato.

Great care is taken with the arrangements to convey a certain atmosphere with the songs. One example is the gentle “Old Tree”. In essence, it’s a tune about a relationship and it’s power to leave an impression. It’s not until the last verse that the title subject gets introduced and only as a symbol of loves that have come and gone. What makes the old tree’s appearance more noteworthy is the percussion and the wood flute that swirls around the vocals, giving a haunting, almost American Indian emotion to it. It’s very nicely done and the song is much rewarded by it.

Also benefiting from the subtle touch is “We Can Fly Away”. A very lovely tune, the feeling of freedom and lightness is produced by the shimmery flow of notes from the guitar and the harmonies of the background vocals. When the electric guitar slides in , it underscores the feeling of watching the waves onto the shoreline.

There’s even a sing-along on the CD which children can warble along with the other kids. Entitled “Rikki Tikki Song”, it’s made up of nonsense lyrics but has a very charming appeal to it. Plus, there's wonderful percussion shaking right along to put it right into the heart of World Music Land. It’s really an infectious ditty and one that you will recall after the tune is way over.

Finally, “Unguarded Heart (Toes’ Song)” is simplicity at it’s finest. There’s just acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass and Linda’s strong uncompromising vocals. It’s a showcase for her singing which is solid throughout the CD. The compressed sound of the electric leads into a jazzy, very melodious solo which lends itself well to the vocals.

There you have it! Molasses is a CD that will encourage you to go for extra helpings, unlike its edible namesake. Sometimes sticky sweet with some grit mixed in can be a winning ingredient, particularly in the recipe for a terrific musical experience!

—Karen Liebowitz