Buffy Sainte-Marie

Moon Shot

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For her seventh album, 1971's She Used to Wanna Be a Ballerina, Buffy Sainte-Marie and her producer, Jack Nitzsche, worked in five recording studios in New York, Los Angeles, and London, and came up with a varied collection ranging from her characteristic folk protest to rock featuring Neil Young and Crazy Horse as a backup band. For her eighth album, 1972's Moon Shot, she stuck to one city, Nashville, working with producer/arranger/bassist Norbert Putnam and some of the same studio musicians who appeared on Young's then-recently released country-rock LP Harvest. But as the advance single of Mickey Newbury and Townes Van Zandt's "Mister Can't You See" (which was well on its way to becoming Sainte-Marie's first Top 40 hit when the LP appeared) indicated, Moon Shot is, for the most part, a collection of pop/rock arrangements. Sainte-Marie has not abandoned her primary political concern, the interests of Indians, but when she brings it up on this album, she has softened the message. "He's an Indian Cowboy in the Rodeo" is an upbeat love song that happens to involve Indians. "Native North American Child" is a celebration of Indian culture. And "Moonshot" is a playful reflection on the supposed wonders of Western science and technology that suggests "primitive" peoples actually may be far more advanced. Elsewhere, Sainte-Marie comes up with some appealing pop love songs, such as "You Know How to Turn On Those Lights" and the string-filled ballad "I Wanna Hold Your Hand Forever," worthy additions to the catalog of the songwriter who previously wrote "Until It's Time for You to Go." Sainte-Marie sings them in a gentle voice without the stridency and vibrato she sometimes uses, and Putnam and fellow arrangers Glen Spreen and Bill Pursell create lush settings for them. This is not the Buffy Sainte-Marie of her early political period, but the album demonstrates her versatility, and it works as an appealing pop effort.

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