Bim Sherman

Miracle

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What a strange idea -- an unplugged reggae album. Stranger still is how well it works. On Miracle, the wispy-voiced Bim Sherman records some of the oldies that he seems capable of recycling endlessly ("Golden Locks," "Lovers Leap," "Can I Be Free from Crying") along with a few new songs, but what makes this session so unique is the instrumentation: acoustic guitars, strings, Indian percussion (courtesy of tabla virtuoso Talvin Singh) and only the most subtle smatterings of synth and electric bass. These versions of "Golden Locks" and "Bewildered" aren't even reggae, strictly speaking, but they sure are pretty. The string section plays in an explicitly Indian style, which, combined with the tabla, creates a strange West-Indies-meets-East-Indies sort of ambience. Skip McDonald's supremely tasteful guitar and multitracked backing vocals contribute significantly to the success of this weird but lovely album. In the Unintended Consequences Department: note how the spare acoustic setting of "My Woman" exposes the howling sexism of Sherman's lyrics. (Note: the entire program is presented in electric remixes on a companion disc titled It Must Be a Dream, available separately on the same label.)

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