Dorian Sono Luminus' Blame Not My Lute is subtitled "Elizabethan Lute Music and Poetry" and features the talents of lutenist Ronn McFarlane in collaboration with the host of NPR's Millennium of Music program Robert Aubry Davis. These two native Washingtonians and longtime friends have presented Blame Not My Lute as a performance throughout the United States over the course of many a year. It examines the sense of counterpoint between the cadences of Elizabethan verse and the English lute music of the time and in this sense Blame Not My Lute is certainly successful in drawing a meaningful correlation between the two. As a CD, however, it comes off more like an audio book or spoken word project rather than a musical recital.
As with any radio voice, whether it is Corey Flintoff or Howard Stern, whether you want to listen or not is a matter of taste. Davis' gamut of Elizabethan delivery ranges from Falstaffian joviality to moon-eyed sentimentality, and if listeners are already well disposed toward Millennium of Music then they are equipped with a frame of reference; others might find the readings hokey and arch. McFarlane's lute, as always, is crisp, resonant, and conveyed with flair, and some additional actors read a scene from Thomas Heywood's play A Woman Killed with Kindness as a way to provide some vocal variety. Perhaps noting the limited potential audience, and application, of Blame Not My Lute, Dorian Sono Luminus has packaged it as economically as it can, yet manages to include a nicely illustrated 16-page booklet with small, but still legible text. One must be careful in removing the booklet from its pocket; the sheer act of pinching the pocket open enough to withdraw the booklet was sufficient to damage the front cover in the review copy, and you might want to extract the text with a pair of plastic tweezers instead. As to Blame Not My Lute itself, some may well take this in as an evening's entertainment, enjoyed once and then tucked away like a book; others, however, might think the choice of title for this Dorian Sono Luminus release a little too aptly chosen.