Laurie Lewis

Earth & Skies: Songs of Laurie Lewis – 1997 (Rounder)

Reviewed by Brian Wahlert

Laurie Lewis was the 1992 and 1994 International Bluegrass Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year, but she transcends the boundaries of that genre on this retrospective as she moves from bluegrass to traditional country and folk, even to new age and jazz.

Regardless of the musical category, though, the central theme of this album is Lewis's talent as a songwriter. She's cautious about falling in love in the banjo-driven bluegrass song "Don't Get Too Close," but she writes poignantly about crossing that line in the fiddle-and-steel country song "The Point of Return." "Green Fields" and "The Hills of My Home" display Lewis's love for the outdoors. Even more interesting are "The Bear Song," a story about a lost hunter who is saved by a group of fiddle-playing bears, and "The Maple's Lament," a spare Irish-sounding first-person tale of the life and death of a tree. And the ethereal natural beauty of "Magic Light" is unlike anything else on any country album. This disc is a fascinating look at a decade in the career of one amazingly gifted songwriter.