The Flash Girls

Play Each Morning Wild Queen

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It is somewhat odd that Play Each Morning Wild Queen would be the first album in which the Flash Girls and their backing musicians sound completely integrated. The album was recorded after a six-year hiatus during which Emma Bull lived in Los Angeles, Lorraine Garland in Minneapolis, and the two had hardly seen each other the entire time. All the material on the album was planned, rehearsed, and recorded in a matter of weeks, with the backing musicians hearing some of the main tracks shortly before they were expected to lay down their parts. Nevertheless, the two women's voices blend very well throughout the album and the musical arrangements are both more complex and more successful. The lofty intentions are obvious from the first track, a shifting instrumental that features a solo not on the guitar or fiddle, but on the Arabic percussion of guest artist Robin Anders. Things get a bit more conventional -- a very little bit -- with the jazzy rendering of Dorothy Parker's "Threnody," which may be the best musical setting this poem has ever received. Most of the rest of the material is the Celtic-influenced folk that has been the staple of previous albums by the Flash Girls, but with a bit more focus and drive than on previous releases. The highlight of the album, and the track that seems tailor-made for novelty hit status, is Neil Gaiman's "A Meaningful Dialogue," a piece that is hilarious not only for its content but also for an arrangement which is reminiscent of the '60s' girl groups. Play Each Morning Wild Queen has a few rough edges, but is all the more endearing for it. With some more time in the recording process it could have been a more technically accomplished album, but some of the spontaneity and energy would have been lost.

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