To say that Peg Carrothers' Blue Skies takes an atypical approach for a maiden album is an understatement. Most of the items on the play list -- standards, traditional material, and originals -- are not done in the "regular" way, especially the standards and the traditional works. "It's a Sin to Tell a Lie" sounds like a spoof with barroom piano, rat-a-tat-tat drumming, and pennywhistle with Peg Carrothers singing country falsetto much like Dorothy Shay, of the Park Avenue Hillbillies, did years ago. Then there's "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" sung in a slow, halting manner to the dirge drone of the pizzicato cello of Jacqueline Ferrier-Ultan (and snoring?). Cellos seem to be de rigeur with many contemporary singers. On "Shenandoah," Carrothers moves toward haunting wordless vocalizing with an echo effect accompanied by the sonata-like pianism of Bill Carrothers, the latter dominating the track. "Young and Foolish" has the singer doing the melody line, but with Jay Epstein's drums going in a different direction and, to a lesser extent, so does Carrothers' piano. The result is an uncanny but angelic version of this tune with a definite avant-garde bent. In great anticipation was the way the group was going to handle that old Tin Pan Alley tune "Back in Your Own Backyard." This one is done relatively straight-ahead and features some good bass by Chris Bates. The bottom line is that most of what Carrothers and crew do works. While off the beaten track, it's not different just for the sake of being different. Their versatile frolicking fits well with the objectives and lyrics of the tunes, offering an innovative, fresh, and highly listenable view of standard material. Have fun with this one. Vive le differénce.
AllMusic Review by Dave Nathan