Comedians & Angels

Comedians & Angels

5.0 1
by Tom Paxton
     
 

Now 70 years old, folk music stalwart Tom Paxton is only getting better as time grants him a deeper perspective on things that matter -- especially love, which is what his captivating new album, Comedians & Angels, is mostly concerned with. He certainly sounds great: His smooth voice is sturdy, soulful, and expressive, and his phrasing is deeply nuanced, theSee more details below

Overview

Now 70 years old, folk music stalwart Tom Paxton is only getting better as time grants him a deeper perspective on things that matter -- especially love, which is what his captivating new album, Comedians & Angels, is mostly concerned with. He certainly sounds great: His smooth voice is sturdy, soulful, and expressive, and his phrasing is deeply nuanced, the better to heighten his telling insights and forthright confessions. Fully 9 of the 15 songs are written expressly for his wife, Midge, and not a single one is cloying or emotionally overwrought. Rather, they are all unfettered expressions of gratitude and affection for something pure, true, and enduring, as reflected in straightforward titles such as "What a Friend You Are," a meticulous, lilting hosanna to a connection that had taken root even before the artist recognized it as such; "The First Song Is for You," a gentle country-inflected toe-tapper extolling the persistent source of inspiration Midge has been through the years; and the buoyant, sweet-natured shuffle "Home to Me (Is Anywhere You Are)," as self-explanatory a song as any ever was. His daughters, Kate and Jennifer, inspire a wry, balladic meditation on fathers and their offspring, with Pete Crouch's fiddle, Al Perkins's dobro, Pete Wasner's piano, and Kirk "Jellyroll" Johnson's rich harmonica providing a soothing Appalachian background for Paxton's rustic ruminations. Warriors of the Old Left are saluted in the stirring, hymn-like opener, "How Beautiful upon the Mountain," and the firebrands of Paxton's musical youth are summoned in the title track, thoughtful, unsentimental but deeply resonant of a time when Paxton, Dave Van Ronk, the Clancy Brothers, and others gathered over drink, radical politics, and music at the Lion's Head and solved the world's problems -- a moving postscript to a journey, and to an artist, listeners can cherish.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - J. Poet
Tom Paxton was one of the few New York City based singer/songwriters to get a pop hit; the Fireballs waxed his alcoholic anthem "Bottle of Wine" and took it to the Top Ten in 1968. He also contributed his share of folk standards to the canon including "The Last Thing on My Mind," "Ramblin' Boy," and "I Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound." Never comfortable with folk-rock, or rock for that matter, despite the fact that rockers and folkies alike covered his songs, Paxton stayed true to the folk singer ethos, one man and a guitar delivering heartfelt, humorous, and gently political songs like 1978's "Anita OJ," a mild put-down of Anita Bryant's anti-gay activities. Although his profile outside folk circles may be low, Paxton is still a vital artist, as this fine collection shows. The songs here, delivered by Paxton and a band of pickers adept at folk, acoustic pop, and country styles, deal with love, marriage, aging, and mortality. Love songs that deal with long-term relationships are few and far between in pop music. There are more of them in country music, but they're often cloying, cliché ridden, and embarrassing. Paxton avoids all those traps with nine delicious tunes to his wife Midge. "Home to Me (Is Anywhere You Are)" is a mid-tempo country tune with an understated message of fidelity. "I Like the Way You Look" could be a rock & roll hit for someone like Bob Seger, a frisky, humorous, slyly sexy tune with a chooglin' melody and some nice solo work by Tim Crouch on mandolin and Mark Howard on guitar. "What a Friend You Are" is a poignant ode to the friendship of a supportive spouse, while "The First Song Is for You" salutes the art of songwriting and long-term relationships. These love songs will bring a glow to anyone who has ever experienced a long-term love affair or successful marriage. Paxton's playful side is evident on "And If It's Not True" a lilting waltz full of tall tales about hanging out with Ravel, meandering through smoky Barcelona bars, and watching Van Gogh and Cezanne paint their masterpieces. "Jennifer and Kate," dedicated to his daughters, is a meditation on fatherhood, funny as well as achingly beautiful and poignant. The title track pays tribute to his pals Dave Van Ronk, the Clancy Brothers, and other singers and poets who made the Greenwich Village scene so vital. Like the rest of the songs on the album it's a masterwork of unassuming poetry married to a strong, folky melody. Paxton's songwriting here is deep and affecting, touching the heart ever deeper with repeated listening.

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Product Details

Release Date:
02/19/2008
Label:
Appleseed Records
UPC:
0611587110527
catalogNumber:
1105
Rank:
143955

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Tom Paxton   Primary Artist,Guitar,Vocals
Nanci Griffith   Vocals
Jim Rooney   Vocals
Mark Howard   Guitar
Pat McInerney   Percussion
Joey Miskulin   Accordion
Perkins   Dobro,Slide Guitar
Jim Photoglo   Vocals
Dave Pomeroy   Upright Bass
Suzy Ragsdale   Vocals
Pete Wasner   Keyboards
Tim Crouch   Fiddle,Mandolin
Barry Tashian   Vocals
Kirk "Jelly Roll" Johnson   Harmonica
Holly Tashian   Vocals

Technical Credits

Tom Paxton   Composer
Jim Rooney   Audio Production
Susan Graham-White   Composer
George Wurzbach   Composer

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