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Marcy Marxer

Things Are Coming My Way – 2013 (Community Music)

Reviewed by Larry Stephens

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CDs by Marcy Marxer

Underlying the entire CD is some talented instrumental work by Marcy Marxer and her friends playing a well documented and broad array of instruments. The mixture of styles and genre is unusual and gives rise to an inference that the target market is fans (and new fans) of Marxer rather than being aimed at, say, the old time crowd.

The title song, with a theme of "I've got the left hind leg of a rabbit" (a lucky charm, if you're having a "huh?" moment) is traditional, roots, old time – some of each. It was learned from the singing of Bessie Jones. In the next breath, Marxer shows her guitar skill on a Django Reinhardt composition, Django's Castle. This is sublime instrumental work, but that's a big leap in style.

Marxer is obviously a fan of Reinhardt. Valse à Django is another of his compositions with some excruciating 30-second note scales that she handles masterfully. Girl Django is – wait, this isn't Reinhardt. Composed by her co-producer and co-guitarist Cathy Fink, this is swing music, and it's very good. If you've been around awhile, you'll be thinking of the McGuire Sisters.

I'll See You In My Dreams was one of the most popular songs of the mid-1920's, and Marxer puts a swing feel to her version (as did Bob Wills). It has been a popular tune for guitarists including Reinhardt. These two numbers provide a good comparison of Marxer's and Fink's vocals. They take turns singing lead and harmony on the CD. Fink (in the inside cover notes) describes Marxer's voice as "angelic." That's one take. "Less than robust" is another way of describing Marxer's voice. It doesn't grab and hold your attention. Fink, on the other hand, has a bolder voice that's well suited to the swing numbers.

From the bluegrass standard Angeline The Baker (with Fink playing banjo) to Lost Gander, an air learned from Mike Seeger, the old-time gospel of Washington Phillips (What Are They Doing In Heaven Today?) to the blues-tinged work of Memphis Minnie (Kissing In The Dark) to Brasil, made famous by Xavier Cugat, Marxer jumps all over the place, but she does it well.

This CD will keep you guessing, wondering where it will next take you, but if you love great instrumental work it is a pleasant ride.