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Artist:: Various Artists
Label: Living Room Tunes
Length: 19 tracks/73:03

Living Room Tunes bills this CD as “some of the best music…made by folks struggling to be heard above the din of the espresso machine at the coffeehouse just down the block from you.”  To me, this would imply lots of acoustic guitars, harmonicas, and lyrics that make you think, written by singer/songwriters that very few people have heard of, while being completely satisfying.

Happily, this compilation meets the above description.  Fourteen artists have contributed at least one song to this project.  Some of the names are familiar (Pegtop, Matt Patrick), while others are relative newcomers who have just released their first EPs.

Standouts here include “Ocean Honey” by Blaine Howard (who also produces), “Crying Out” by Nate Houge and the Honest Folk, and “Mr. Taylor” by Matt Patrick.  Patrick’s vocals are a combination of Adam Duritz (Counting Crows) and Buddy and Julie Miller, while the music here is a reminder of the late great Athens, GA band Dreams So Real.  One other highlight is “There is Beauty” by Rachel Kurtz, whose vocals rival that of Leigh Nash (Sixpence None the Richer).

There seems to be a sense of community among the artists here, as Joel Pakan has a solo track, while his band, Crosseyed, is also featured. Blaine Howard sings, while his band Trace has another song here as well.  Matt Patrick has played with or sang with almost everyone here at one point or another.

In short, this CD is eminently enjoyable.  It is perfect for a quiet evening at home, sipping a warm drink, while the wind whistles outside.  Pull up your blanket, read your book, and turn up the volume.

Brian A. Smith 8/19/2001

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