Carolyn Currie

Waves of Silence

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Although folk singer/songwriter Carolyn Currie's fourth album, Waves of Silence, certainly isn't a children's record, its overarching theme is the way in which the world impinges on the tranquility of children and family as a parent and spouse tries to keep it at bay. A writer of story-songs, Currie probably would assert that the first-person narrators of the 11 songs are 11 entirely different characters, and so they may well be. But they are characters dealing with many of the same sorts of issues. And the dangers facing families clearly are daunting, starting with the challenge of explaining the Iraq War to one's kids (the leadoff track, "Rain"), even if their main concern seems to be whether the onset of hostilities is going to earn them a day off from school. War also comes up in "Rolling Thunder," and even if 2009 may seem like a late date to be bringing up Vietnam, Currie delves into the long-term psychological and physiological effects on the surviving soldiers and their loved ones. But even when war is not the problem, there are more local concerns, including spouses who don't behave as they should, a subject examined in a trio of songs in the middle of the disc, starting with "After," in which a widow deals with her husband's suicide; continuing with "Ahab's Wife," a speculation on what it might have been like to be married to the obsessed villain of Moby-Dick; and concluding with "Kaleidoscope," perhaps a reversal of the artist's own situation, as a romantic partner remonstrates with the song's narrator to choose "One life one home one family one love with me" over a life on the road as a musician. And there are lighter moments, still on the same theme, notably "Hot for a House," in which a wife cajoles her husband to buy them "a little red house with a garden." ("That mortgage broker he's a real nice man," she observes, in what seemed a novel opinion during the American housing crisis that coincided with the album's release.) Currie gets her points across with a baby-doll voice, singing lyrics full of water imagery over gentle acoustic guitar and piano arrangements that add other individual instruments for color -- cello, fiddle, Irish flute, accordion, etc. Her voice and the music provide reassurance most of the time (although Dan Mohler's fretless bass conveys an aching, lonely feeling). Their delicacy also underscores the sense of fragile balance felt by those, like Currie's characters, trying to stay together, pay the bills, and raise healthy children under sometimes trying circumstances.

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