CD: MARY BETH CROSS Beyond Good And Evil

Beyond Good And Evil
Babes In The Wood - Beyond Good And Evil - Kiss You Goodnight - I Don't Feel No Ways Tired - Liza Jane - Stories Never Told - Caledonia - Land Of The Midnight Sun - Feels Like Home - Our Love Is Here To Stay
"Babes In the Wood" that's another story, for sure, but not a Mary Beth Cross original.  All the rest of the songs are. Mary Beth is a folk singer, well yes, but she's also a soft country singer, well yes she's also her own distinctive self.  My instant attraction to the songs, and their beautiful mix, is the addition of Stuart Duncan, an incredibly gifted bluegrass fiddler.  Mary, originally from Wisconsin, now living in the Rocky Mountains, has created a traveling adventure of soul, sorrow, happiness, and certainly discovery and opportunity, as she dedicates this project to the pioneers that blazed the trail, from Wisconsin to Colorado, as she has done, and the beautiful adventure and the chance to have land, that becomes the pioneers own, which is what they treasured most.  Mary, much like another Wisconsin folk singer that draws heavily from the woodlands and farm lifestyle for inspiration, Sue West, uses the words of rural America to describe and depict a wholly different lifestyle and environment that many of us neither know very much about, and certainly have not experienced.  The musical expressions expressed here are worthy of note, especially since they have been made by such excelled musicians in Nashville, as Stuart Duncan of course on fiddle, but he adds mandolin and banjo on some cuts.  Matthew Pierson on bass, Mile Payne on guitar and 6-string banjo, Blair Masters on piano, organ, accordion, and melodica, Ken Lewis on drums, Paul Nelson on cello, and Michael Douchette on Dobro.  In combination it's easy to see how this particular session turned into a 'soulful' gathering, and some excellent original songs I would sometimes label Americana, but more often pure rural-soul music.  Like Mary Beth, we both have liked and appreciated the music of Kate Wolf, one of California's most productive folk singers. I realize that Mary Beth is not reaching for an older audience, but if she ever does, enunciation is very important to them.  Even the Broadway show tune "Our Love Is Here To Stay" is interesting with a 6-string banjo (though it 'squeaks' a bit) but the whistling is great.  In total, this CD is worthy of being submitted to the Rural Roots Music Commission for their take on 'Americana CD of the Year.'  We'll have to wait to see what happens.  In the meantime, I hope Mary Beth Cross will continue her journey, perhaps not in a covered wagon, but certainly in spirit.  Thar's 'gold' in them thar hills Mary Beth.  
Record review by Bob Everhart, President National Traditional Music Assn., for Country Music News International 

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