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Tom Paxton

Boat in the Water – 2017 (Pax)

Reviewed by Greg Yost

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CDs by Tom Paxton

At 79, famed folksinger Tom Paxton should be commended for continuing his songwriting journey on "Boat In The Water," the 63rd album released during his storied career. It would be very easy and quite understandable for someone of Paxton's stature, possessing his incredible catalog of songs, to simply rerecord old favorites with new arrangements instead of pursuing new avenues of expression. Thankfully, Paxton has continued down his artistic path by working with some very notable Nashville songwriters on collaborative songwriting efforts.

John Venzer, probably best known for his song "Where've You Been," a top-10 hit on the country charts for Kathy Mattea, helped pen 4 of the 13 songs. His most notable contributions also produce some of the most poignant moments.

On "Christmas In The Shelter," Paxton and Venzer use a heartbreaking first-person narrative in order to bring awareness to the plight of the homeless, a group easily forgotten amidst the joy of the season.

"The First Thing I Think Of Each Morning" is a tender tribute to the true power of love - that emotion's ability to provide a sense of warmth and security even in the most trying of times. "Dream On, Sweet Dreamer," a sleepy ukulele lullaby featuring lovely vocal harmonies from Marcy Marxer and Cathy Fink, the producers and supporting musicians, is a pitch-perfect way to close out the album.

In addition to Venzer, Paxton also worked with Pat Alger, a 2010 inductee into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame best known for his work with Garth Brooks. The duo's collaborations here include the carefree tropical folk of the title track and "Hitch To My Gitalong," a little piece of banjo folk that could have easily been an old whimsical cowboy tune.

Not every song was a joint effort. Paxton's own "A Daughter In Denver" is unique in that it is so personal to his own life, but is still easily relatable to listeners. A sure sign you are listening to a great songwriter.