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Happy Hosting, Happy New Year - Rob Ellen
Mary Battiata and her band, Little Pink (Tim Pruitt, electric guitar; Alex Weber, upright, electric bass; Ed Hough, drums, percussion; Dave Hadley, pedal steel) are joined by special guests Mike Munford (banjo) and Seldom Scene veteran Dudley Connell (Seldom Scene etc) on harmony vocals, and with them combining country, bluegrass and folk you have a tasty recipe. Members of Little Pink include Tim Pruitt (electric guitar), Alex Weber (upright, electric bass), Ed Hough (drums, percussion) and Dave Hadley (pedal steel), and with additional guests to the above providing fiddles, banjo, accordions, baritone saxophone, mandolin, pedal steel and percussion, the record produced by Battiata and Dave Nachodsky enjoys a great deal of instrumental depth, creativity and width. Over what is a more than a generous 14-tracks.
Bouncing along like an old pick-up truck, Battiata & Little Pink immediately set the tone of the album on opening with “Sun That I Could Count On” and the show of consistency is present right on through till she bows out with the bustling “Sing Me A Landscape”
Washington DC based, singer-songwriter Battiata wrote all the songs.other than delightful, mandolin and fiddle warmed jaunty cut, “Drive That Fast” (Arty Flynn). Here you have a folk country sound akin to that of Kate Wolf (1970s-1980s) appear. Part of Battiata’s diverseness is found on the occasions she vies towards quirky (“Seven Stars”), but not to the degree a hunting party is needed to find her! The space evoking “Remember This” (hints of REM?) at near five minutes is arguably the highest point of the album as pedal steel, banjo, and a moody drifting feel sees Battiata on an emotion packed adventure to a place beyond the norm.
When it comes to old-fashioned barroom tunes, “Things You Say And Don’t Say” steeped in pedal steel and fiddle has her speak of how she is left twisting in the wind and living upside down by a man who ducks more questions than England’s batsmen on a fast Australian wicket, and with the man’s love of drinking haunts and hiding a wedding ring she ends up running in ever decreasing circles. More soothing is when Battiata edges through “Tall Timbers” in plaintive story-telling fashion, and with timely introduction of harmony vocals the tale gains an even greater impact. Slumbering track “Big Big World” follows it in commercial country fashion prior to crackerjack of a back roads country jewel “Can’t Take My Mind Off You” (more excellent harmony vocals), plus on coming out of chute at a gallop “20 Words” is rapid as a machine gun (short) tune that never stops for breath.
“Drive That Fast” weaves a warm, instrumentally strong fabric typical of country folk of the west coast. “March 16” has a restless feel of the desert feel as Battiata produces a feel of free abandon. The ant-war song is set in Northern Iraq, 1988.
With the album lasting almost fifty -two minutes there is an argument that maybe, the listener is given a little too much music to digest in one sitting. Then again, with cds it is easy pick up where you left off. Could we see her over this summer I ask? I for one would be most interest to catch Battiata and Little Pink live.
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