The Flash Girls

Maurice and I

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The second album by the Flash Girls is a giant leap forward from their first, with more interesting arrangements and better performance and recording quality. Neither Emma Bull or Lorraine Garland are flashy instrumentalists, but their excellent teamwork, ethereal voices, and high-quality material carry this album very well. The music on this album is the Flash Girls' usual mixture of Celtic tunes and modern stuff, and there are standout examples of both on Maurice and I. The old Scottish folk song "Twa Bonny Maidens" has a quiet joy about it, and though it is in the repertoire of many traditional groups, this is the best and most heartfelt rendition. The fiddle tune "Mike's Magic" gives Lorraine Garland a chance to stretch out a bit as well as indulge a sense of humor. The track starts out as a guitar and fiddle piece with a distinct Scottish lilt, and as it goes on strange little sound effects start to accumulate and lend a whimsical air. By the end of the track a group of instrumentalists credited on the album as "Drunken Male Chorus" are doing a vocal and kazoo imitation of a bagpipe band. Suffice it to say that this track is pretty much guaranteed to produce a smile, if not an actual silly grin. A delightful and intelligent track is "Me and Dorothy Parker," a fantasy of a wild crime spree in unlikely company. Another standout is "A Girl Needs a Knife," a chilling, even menacing track in which Bull and Garland's voices harmonize beautifully while singing about murder weapons. Whatever you make of this track it is thought-provoking, and like the rest of the album it deserves a second listen. Credit is due to Adam Stemple's subtle production, which captures the idea of each cut without overwhelming the delicate balance that makes the Flash Girls so interesting.

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