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Spring 2006 SingOut! - Vol. 50 #1
Lauren Sheehan - Two Wings
Review by Mike Regenstreif
Most of the material on Lauren Sheehan's second CD is drawn from various blues traditions and, with her warm voice and accomplished skills on the guitar and banjo, Sheehan is one of the best interpreters of the genre to step forward in the past several years. She opens this fine CD with the title song, a bluesy spiritual number that features some terrific harmonica playing by Phil Wiggins that weaves in between and underneath her fine vocals. Thirteen excellent tracks follow including several excursions into old-time country and Appalachian songs and a couple of her own instrumental tunes.
One of the most interesting songs in the set is her transformed version of Robert Johnson's "Kind Hearted Woman." Sheehan has taken Johnson's lyrics, which originally had the narrator singing about the kind hearted woman and about his own anguish, and rewritten them from a woman's perspective. Sung from the woman's perspective, Sheehan's version combines both the woman and the anguished soul into the same being.
Sheehan also does marvelous versions of a couple of Blind Willie McTell classics. Her arrangement of "Lonesome Day Blues" features some terrific trumpet playing by Dick Titterington while her solo rendition of "Statesboro Blues" showcases some excellent guitar playing.
Sheehan occasionally deviates from the blues with similarly excellent results. The Carter Family's "Are You Tired of Me" receives an old-time rendition that features some sweet harmonies and mandolin playing from Kate Power and Peter "Spud" Siegel. Sheehan's banjo frailing and lonesome singing make for an authentic sounding version of the traditional "Red Rocking Chair" and her own "Farewell Swallowtail" is a very pretty finger picked instrumental that shifts through several moods.
Although this is just her second album, this former teacher and school administrator has already proven herself to be a formidable musician and singer. -- MR
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