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Artist: Annie Moses Band
Label:  manAlive Records
Time: 14 Tracks / 57:48
Released: July 26, 2005
I just came from a party where Charlie Daniels was introduced to Sarah Brightman who brought along her pals Willy and Lobo. Well I didn't really but it sure felt that way after listening to the CD Eden by the very talented Annie Moses Band. Mix in a little bluegrass, jazz and blues and that just about covers the genres of music you will find on this treasured masterpiece. Although this CD has been out for awhile I just discovered both the Annie Moses Band and Eden so indulge me.

After reading the last paragraph, critics who have not heard Eden might be quick to say it sounds like a band without an identity. That statement couldn't be further from the mark. This group comprised for the most part of the Wolaver family and friends Peter Bales (bass guitar) with Javier Santiago on percussion know exactly what they are doing. Annie Wolaver a virtuoso violinist, Alex Wolaver playing the viola and cellist Benjamin Wolaver front the band. All three are graduates of New York City's famed Juilliard School. 

The CD opens with two pastel worship songs "Lover of My Soul" and "Eden." The songs introduce you to the very gifted vocalist Annie. There really are not sufficient words to describe the beautiful textures to her voice.

The third track "Tough As Nails" uses some clever wording to remind us of the depth of Christ's love. This song also teases us with hints of powerful strings arrangements yet to come. 

"Turkey Blossom" a bluegrass tune highlights the strength of the Annie Moses Band, the strings arrangements. With bows and instruments in hand Annie, Alex and Benjamin create pure magic. The piece draws from "Turkey In the Straw" and Ervin T. Rouse's "Orange Blossom Special" and creates a country jamboree ambience.

"Soli Deo Gloria" is a multi layered classical piece which draws its name from the fifth of the Reformation solas, to God alone be the glory (as in Gloria Excelsis Deo). Annie Wolaver turns in a performance worthy of England's Albert Hall or America's Carnegie Hall. The CD also closes with a classical piece Fugue in E Minor. 

Just when you figure you have at least identified something from the band's music that you can hang your hat on they serve up an awesome blues tinged jazz number, "Keep The Change." Carol Parker, Mandisa Hundley and Robin Wolaver (mother) are outstanding providing the backup vocals while Bill Wolaver (the father) is resplendent on the piano and B3.

Husband and wife team of Robin and Bill create the soft edged southern "Dogwood's a' bloomin'." The words are a reflection of Robin's childhood growing up in the Kiamichi Mountains of Oklahoma. The lyrics recall the peace and joy she experienced as the dogwood would blossom in the spring. The white flowers become a metaphor for Christ's redemption making our sins as white as snow. If this song doesn't cause you to tingle you should check for a pulse.

With "Smokey Mountain Blue" we listen to Annie match note for note any classic female country artist you can name.

Annie performs the pretty colonial tune "What Wondrous Love Is This" in a fashion true to the four shape note system first introduced in colonial America during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.  The folk hymn was composed by William Walker a 19th century Baptist song leader. Lyrics are generally attributed to Alexander Means a clergyman from the same period that lived in North Carolina. 

At times you are simply at a loss to assign a genre to Annie Moses Band's music as is the case with "Absolute" which transitions between orchestral and jazz and back again. David Hamilton's B3 work is breathtaking. 

I consider myself pretty eclectic when it comes to music and I just couldn't get enough of this CD. I kept coaxing another spin out of my player. The excellence with which the Annie Moses Band performs so many varying styles of music is awe inspiring. It is truly daunting when you consider how great this band could become.

By Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved

Joe Montague is an internationally published journalist / photographer. His ministry is dedicated to the memory of his late son Kent David Montague who went to heaven at the age of 18. All copyright and distribution rights remain the property of Joe Montague. 


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