Various Artists

This Is Boston...Not Austin, Vol. 1

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This Is Boston...Not Austin is an extraordinarily consistent sampler of Boston's fertile folk scene (and an attempt to attract the sort of attention that was being paid to the music in Austin, Texas at the time). One reason this disc works better than many anthologies is the consistantly sparse arrangements. The full-length albums of these folksingers show a much greater variety of production styles than this compilation would suggest. By sticking to uniformly unadorned acoustic recordings, the editors of this CD avoid a pitfall common among compilations: jumping jarringly from style to style. The chosen tracks have also been sequenced with unusual sensitivity. The least accomplished songwriters are all relegated to the end of the album (and there are maybe only three in that category: Greg Greenway, Jon Svetkey and Barbara Kessler). This is Boston has too many highlights to name them all, but three must be mentioned: "Glory Bound" is a quietly flabbergasting showcase for Martin Sexton's velvet vocal perfection. Jonatha Brooke's "Just One Word" is a chillingly powerful solo performance of one of the best songs from her band The Story's first album. Chris Trapper's "Silvertown" manages to combine gorgeously delicate acoustic fingerstyle, a compelling vocal eccentricity which recalls the Cure, and quirkily evocative poetry reminiscent of XTC.