Bill Garrett / Sue Lothrop

Red Shoes

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Thoughtful, earnest, maybe a touch preachy in parts -- folk music has its own particular standards to live up to (or alternately transcend). Bill Garrett and Sue Lothrop's album certainly starts on that note with a cover of a song called "No More Fish." On the one hand, it addresses a serious enough subject -- the depletion of Atlantic fishing stocks that drove Far Eastern Canada's economy and the resultant hard times -- and on the other hand it's so prettily obvious that it could be a parody. Some clunky rhymes don't help either, frankly, but that and a couple of other well-meaning (though strident) songs aside, Red Shoes is an enjoyable enough, if not remarkable, example of early 21st century folk with a definitely Canadian slant. It's no more parochial than any other kind of regionally focused work, and often brings in a new context for outside observers. "Un Canadien Errant," another reworking, tells of such events as an 1837 French Canadian rebellion and the escape of a patriot to America, something most Statesiders probably didn't realize occurred. The personal is hardly ignored either -- the album's best song might well be "On Your Way Home," whose subject is dealing with long-distance relationships, and their inevitable stresses, with sweet grace. Garrett and Lothrop have sturdy, fine voices; there aren't any real surprises in their approach, but for those who like their performers clearly heard and slightly gravelly, it'll be grand stuff. There are a few fun musical twists and turns along the way, gentle waltzes, a good bit of rocking country in the cover of Rodney Crowell's "Leaving Louisiana" -- "The Hill" is almost a piece of polite '30s swing thanks to the drums and clarinet. The backing musicians provide spare, enjoyable additions throughout.

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