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Ingrid Karklins & Backbone
Red Hand
Willow Music

For the eye at least, this is one of the most pleasing packages to be assembled for the display shelves and the home shelves. Each one is meticulously put together, hand-pressed (literally) and layered by no less than five different paper types, with an emphasis on red, black, and cream colors. It even comes with a satin strip to act as bookmark, as the family bible, maybe obscured by dust, might have.

And why should this not bear some sort of resemble to the bible? Karklings' pieces here do not seem to be songs as much as they are prayers of sorts, personal hymns that re-center the singer and the listener (see Incantation). What's at stake here is humanity, understanding and feeling compassion towards others.

Unfortunately, there are moments on the CD where Backbone pushes too far forward, obscuring the music and the moment. This becomes painfully obvious on their cover of Nick Drake's Know. The players render a simple and moving piece ineffective by overplayed bass and busy-ness in general.

Hymns work because of their solemn tone and deceptive simplicity, and too often this CD moves towards a cluttered arrangement, instead of peeling back the musical skin to reveal the tenderness that lies underhand.

Copyright © 1998 Andy Beta e-mail address

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