Review by Alphonse Leong
Welcome to the Prairies version of the Indigo Girls! Or, for a slightly more obscure reference, think of Lava Hay jamming with Jr. Gone Wild. Yes, Jr. Gone Wild may be gone, but founder Mike McDonald is still layin' down tracks, this time as producer of a bunch of spare, earthy tunes by Edmonton quartet Painting Daisies.
Daisy Blue Groff and Rachelle Van Zanten are the songwriters and vocalists, and the disc alternates with a Groff composition and then a Van Zanten composition. It's Groff's stuff that really grabs me. Her short and sweet piece, "Glamourized," has the sprightly feel of early Van Morrison and really showcases the group's tight, spiralling harmonies. Other Groff notables include the accurately titled "Positive Blues Funk," with its gospel-flavoured vocals and a jolting line: "I'm a first rank crazy bitch/Who blames everything on alcohol"; "The Swinger's Guide to Self-Improvement," a witty jazz swing number; and "Michael Stipe the Shining Light," which never quite reveals its verdict on its subject. Van Zanten's songs tend to be slower and more introspective, like the pleasantly spiritual "The God Song" and the eerie "A Song for Jeremy."
Musically, the prominent acoustic guitars are quite refreshing and the energetic but subtle bass playing by Dale Ladoucer are a perfect complement. About the only thing that undermines this disc's listenability is the incessant harmonizing on just about every line! When it works it sounds great, but there are moments when you wished they'd showed some restraint.
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