Listen Up: Wednesday, February 23, 2005
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A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Adie Grey

How to Find a Rainbow (Hey Baby Music)

By Tom Geddie

Adie Grey’s claim to fame may be that the title song from her first c.d., 1999’s Grandpa’s Advice, made it onto a compilation for NPR’s “Car Talk.” That disc — hers, not Car Talk’s — climbed into the top 25 on one Americana chart, but listeners don’t pay much attention to that stuff.
Her new c.d., How to Find a Rainbow, is not as sappy as its title may suggest. The “rainbow” here refers more to the eclectic range of sounds — pop, country-blues, cajun-inflected country, jazzy show tunes, folk, Spanish, and an early wisp of sweet Christmas song — than to the happy-faced idea of ribbons in the sky.
The c.d. works best far around pop’s fringes, as on “The Ballad of Black Charlie,” which features Grey on mountain dulcimer and in which the singer-songwriter explores an indifferent civilization’s encroachment on individual rights. Likewise on “The Gospel of the Hammer,” in which the hammer remains a tool rather than a weapon.
Grey and her husband, co-producer Dave MacKenzie, wrote every song except the classic “Volver, Volver,” for which they added English lyrics inspired by the passionate Spanish love standard.
The multifarious sonic imagery permeating the disc may have something to do with her past, in Los Angeles, as a former professional partner of Albert King, Vonda Shepard, and Rev. James Cleveland’s gospel choir, and, in Nashville — where she writes songs for a living — as a co-conspirator with Pam Tillis and Martina McBride.
“Samba de Bologne sur Mer” sounds as if it came from the early 1960s, except it’s a tiny bit sexier. “Mr. Armstrong Was Right” is a pensive excerpt from a Broadway musical, built on mellow sax and bluesy guitar, reminding us that when we are down, we should remember Louie Armstrong’s “Wonderful World.” OK, that song’s a little sappy but, at the same time, moving — moving like How to Find a Rainbow. — Tom Geddie


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