Meg Christian

Face the Music

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Meg Christian's second album illustrates the conflict one often encounters in assessing music made for a specific social purpose, whether it is the folk-protest movement out of which recordings like this evolved or, for example, the CCM field. The conflict is between the value of the music-as-message and the music's value regardless of what it is about lyrically. One might say that Meg Christian is a talented, but, as of this recording, an unremarkable singer/songwriter. She has a powerful voice that she is not quite in control of, so that she sometimes belts when she should croon, sometimes sounds formal when she should sound intimate. Her songwriting and arranging run toward conventional 1970s folk-pop, and she displays an unfortunate tendency to abandon musical structure when what she's singing about is more important to her than how she sings it. The two most ambitious songs here, "Rosalind," which is about the narrator's relationship with an African-American woman, and "Where Do We Go from Here," which is about, well, the whole matter of how to live as a lesbian in the contemporary world, both suffer from this musical weakness; they break down into virtual recitatives as Christian loses interest in them as music (except for her recognition that she must throw in a singable chorus here and there on "Where Do We Go from Here") as opposed to the significance of what she has to say. When she is interested in the music, as on the leadoff title song, however, she doesn't always get her point across. Much of this album is charming, particularly "Nipper," a song for a cat, and much of it is stirring, particularly "Mountain Song" and "The Rock Will Wear Away." It is even occasionally amusing ("Leaping Lesbians"). No doubt Christian's ardent fans will hang on every word and bravely negotiate the musical peaks and troughs in the name of supporting the lesbian cause. But more dispassionate listeners are likely to wish she had a mastery of her craft to match her passion, and hope that eventually she will.

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