Various Artists

Fast Folk Musical Magazine, Vol. 8, Issue 9: Local Charm

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As a combination album and magazine, Fast Folk presents a special kind of musical journalism, implying that this is the state of folk music at this moment. If so, these 18 songs suggest that romance is still a thorny, if sometimes humorous experience, that vague philosophical longing persists, that rape and death and uncertainty continue to threaten us, and that conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assassination will never die. Here, present and former group members Rex Fowler of Aztec Two-Step and Andrew Ratchin of Uncle Bonsai step out solo, Fast Folk stalwarts Josh Joffen (he of "Trinity," the JFK song) and Ilene Weiss check in, and the impact of Tori Amos is found in more than one wannabe (Lori B., Rachel Sage). But the best songs are either romantic comedies like Eddy Lawrence's "How I Met My Wife" and Mindy Jostyn's "Other Guys' Girls," or detailed accounts of domesticity like Kate Jacobs' "Honey Bees." The accompanying magazine contains profiles, poetry, and an interview with Tom Russell (who is not on the album).