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Amy Collins | The Hour of the Wolf

album review by John Powell

Amy Collins | The Hour of the Wolf

I’m stoked to be able to say that there’s a contemporary singer that reminds me of the caliber of Joni Mitchell. Joni was a whole package: deep, poetic songs, a stimulating, earthly voice, and mad skills for melody and timing. Amy Collins retains all those characteristics, and, like Joni, possesses good guitar skills, at least attuned to her particular style.

That style is wonderfully orchestrated on The Hour of the Wolf. On the opener, “Here’s the Deal”, Amy sings over heavy acoustic guitar and triumphant violin. “I never said that you were wrong/ remember once I did belong,” she sings, “Find a way that we can go our separate ways/ down the same road.” Her lyrics, often, come off primarily as traditional- and some songs are, but sometimes she’ll leave you with a feeling you have to contemplate. It’s quite refreshing.

She has timelessness to her too. On “Rosemary’s Home” she offers, “The minstrel boy was playing/ between the hours of 12 and two.” Later, she sings, “They walked from the church/ hand in hand/ man and wife/ toasts were made.” Amy keeps to folk tradition. She tells her message through story in song, a talent much lost in the modern world of song-making.

While Amy wrote the majority of these songs, she sings some by others. Roseanne Raneri’s lyrics are excellently sung on “China”. Amy’s voice has a wide range, but she never strains herself. On “China” she keeps it low, rustic. The story continues. “I’ll probably move back to Jersey/ when my grandmother’s china is sold.” (Ah, I bet at first you thought we were talking about the country!)

Granted, 17 songs, most averaging four minutes, is quite a lot, and if I have one conflict with The House of the Wolf it’s that it’s too much. Joni’s albums were as short as 30 minutes. Wolf is over an hour. This wouldn’t be a problem on an album with horns, boisterous strings, etc., but Amy is content with acoustic guitars and infrequent extras.

Still, “You Don’t Know Me” is a blues-jazz lament. “Maid On The Shore” is a sailor’s ballad. Amy has a love for the Otherworldly. Overall, this album is beautiful; unique and rarely- if ever- dull. Again, it only loses my attention because it’s so long. If you’re down with folk music at its core, look no further.

Bottom line: Amy Collins’ talent is undeniable. Her voice and lyrics are graceful, and she’s not afraid to sing other people’s songs too. It’s a great album.


 

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