|Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem ↔ Some Bright Morning (2012)|
Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem • Some Bright Morning
Location: Newport, Winnipeg + New England State, Canada
Album release: April 24, 2012
Record Label: Signature Records
01. Hear Jerusalem Moan 3:36
02. Bridges 3:49
03. I'll Fly Away 3:11
04. Miami Moon 3:48
05. Reason to Believe 4:38
06. Will Your House Be Blessed? 3:35
07. Johnny Brown 3:43
08. Fall River 2:52
09. Crossing the Bar 3:33
10. East Virginia 5:08
11. Fire in the Sky 4:37
12. Travelin' Shoes 4:48
◊ Rani Arbo - Vocals, Fiddle, Guitar
◊ Scott Kessel - Vocals, Percussion, Jawharp
◊ Andrew Kinsey - Vocals, Bass, Banjo, Ukelele
◊ Anand Nayak - Vocals, Electric & Acoustic Guitar, Harmonium
◊ Ray Bonneville - Harmonica
◊ Mark Erelli - Lap Steel
◊ Produced by Chris Rival with Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem
◊ Recorded and Mixed by Chris Rival at Middleville Studio, North reading, MA
Website: www.raniarbo.com / Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/daisymayhemmusic
◊ So, what's a daisy mayhem? Wicked grooves, sublime lead singing, great harmonies, sparkling original songs, and a deep repertoire that spans 200 years of American music. Four people who share an irresistible chemistry on stage. An unusually gleeful string band that celebrates both tradition and improvisation and that stumps the categorizers. (Are they an agnostic gospel band? A homeopathic bluegrass band? Are they crazy?). Start with a fiddle, a guitar, and a standup bass. Add a cardboard box with a suitcase bass drum and tin can cymbals, played by an ex-rock and zydeco drummer. Over that fine groove, hang Rani Arbo's expressive alto, seamless four-part harmonies, and a splash of banjo and ukulele, and you have it.
◊ “Some bright morning when this life is o’er, I’ll fly away...”
◊ Not so long ago, people sang about death all the time, in church and out. Death was all around — it was a different world, then — and folks made a logical choice: if you can’t beat it, you might as well sing. It’s good medicine.
◊ Some Bright Morning, the new album from Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem, is good medicine, and not just for contemplating mortality. It does, however, come bearing three sing-alongs about death: the punch-drunk, uke-powered “I’ll Fly Away,” Arbo’s hymn-like setting of Tennyson’s “Crossing the Bar,” and the traditional “Travelin’ Shoes,” a proud embrace of the inevitable that finishes with a sustained, album-closing “Hallelujah.”
◊ Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem have earned a reputation for delving deep (they like to joke that they play agnostic gospel music), but this isn’t a Sunday morning record. It’s an all-week, all-year, all-life kind of album, one that leaps from love to loss, through longing and fear, into hope and play. Like the band’s uplifting, acclaimed 2007 effort, Big Old Life (recorded after Arbo’s breast cancer treatment), Some Bright Morning will be left in your changer for long stretches of time, just so you know it’s there when you need it. It is a tincture of ukulele, banjo, recycled percussion, standup bass, fiddle and guitar. It is a salve of spine-tingling four-part harmony. It levies the healing power of four musicians who have played together for twelve years and are still reaching for it.
Some Bright Morning’s twelve tracks offer up the band’s trademark mix of traditional material, unexpected covers and smart, probing originals. Fiddler Rani Arbo’s “Miami Moon” swings slowly through the memories of her late neighbor Rudy, who lived for dancing. Her “Bridges” is a flood of loss for the wreckage of Hurricane Irene and the breakup of a friend’s marriage. Bassist Andrew Kinsey sings “Fire in the Sky,” his stark lament for a life’s work up in flames. Guitarist Anand Nayak rips into Bruce Springsteen’s ode to the raw edge of hope, “Reason To Believe,” with a pounding string-band feel. Drummer Scott Kessel with his “drumship enterprise” — a recycled cardboard box, suitcase, tin cans — fires up the band’s grooves, from the deep, loping Georgia Sea Islands song “Little Johnny Brown” to the funky, shuffling agnostic gospel spiritual, “Hear Jerusalem Moan.”
◊ Two guests - old friends of the band - grace the album. Juno-award-winning Canadian bluesman Ray Bonneville lends his trademark deep and patient harmonica to “Travelin’ Shoes”; and New Englander Mark Erelli (Lori McKenna, Barnstar!, and his own solo catalogue) brings his gorgeous lap steel to Arbo’s “Bridges,’ “Miami Moon,” and Nayak’s electric-guitar-fueled version of the Appalachian ballad, “East Virginia Blues.”
◊ Recorded almost completely live and in one room, Some Bright Morning is like a candid photograph. It captures a vivid, honest and unrepeatable moment in time, thanks to the alchemy between Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem and veteran engineer/co-producer Chris Rival (who recorded Big Old Life). Says Arbo, “We go to Chris because we want to feel a certain way in the studio. On stage, we commit to every note, giving it up for each other and the audience, feeling it more than thinking it. On stage, we know that we and the audience are more than the sum of our parts.” Rival, she says, is so good at capturing live sound, and at finding the heart of a song, that the band can let go and step into that giving space. “He’s got a divining rod for music and for people; it’s a powerful combination. You can have a roomful of 300 listeners, or you can have Chris. It’s the same feeling.”
◊ Some Bright Morning is a beautiful candid photograph of a band twelve years in. Twelve years of winning audiences at Newport, Winnepeg and dozens of North American festivals and performing arts centers. Twelve years of discovering what it’s like to play for schoolchildren, homeless families and hospital patients. Twelve years of church basement coffeehouses and local benefits. Twelve years of being the first audience for each other’s songs, and being bona fide aunts and uncles for each other’s kids.
◊ Some Bright Morning captures now, the way we wish we could still a moment of time with those we love and rest there for a while. It’s full of life, light and music. It’s good medicine.
|Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem ↔ Some Bright Morning (2012)|