TRACEY HASKELL: Festival Romance
By Bing Turkby
Dripping with the cheerful, sunny feeling of the festival romance of the title, Haskell's first all-original effort is a mellow Sunday afternoon of an album. Tasteful backing from Wayne Morris on drums and Bob Silbery on bass lets the songs breathe and her dreamy vocals take centre stage. Guest artists sprinkled liberally throughout mean that textures change as the CD progresses, an antidote to the sameness that can sometimes plague an album made by a small crew. I was pleasantly surprised by the trombone that provides an oompah pulse and a jaunty solo on Just a Trace. The title track is a chirpy country waltz, laced with steel guitar and the sparkling banjo of Catherine Bowness, who was only 15 years old when her parts were recorded. Though most of the songs are cheerful, Haskell can also turn her hand to pain and heartache without becoming mawkish. Leave Me Now is a farewell to a lover and 57,000 Years springs from her experience as a nurse, with a haunting a capella performance and a ghostly echo for ambience.Overall, the lyrics are poetic while still sounding like a real person talking. So it feels like an album full of real life. Haskell says the album grew out of her love of music and festivals, and describes herself as a "folk festival junkie." If you can identify with that, and need a hit, then score this album at the next opportunity. You'll be singing along in no time at all.