Maggie & Terre Roche

Seductive Reasoning

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When young Maggie Roche introduced herself to Paul Simon, it is easy to see what attracted him to her songs and the act she had with her sister, Terre. Roche has an intelligent, individual songwriting style, and her songs serve as the vehicle for two-part harmonies with Terre, the soprano, and herself on alto, a sort of distaff version of Simon & Garfunkel. Simon was sufficiently interested to use the two on There Goes Rhymin' Simon. Musically, Seductive Reasoning is a counterpart to that record, boasting many of the same names among its credits. Like Rhymin' Simon, it was recorded largely at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section giving the tracks their distinctive hybrid sound of country, rock, folk, gospel, and blues. And just as Simon turned to former Yardbird Paul Samwell-Smith for help on the quieter "American Tune," three ballads -- "West Virginia," "Malachy's," and "Jill of All Trades" -- were handled by him. But the superior musicianship and production are not what make Seductive Reasoning an outstanding album. Rather, it is most notable as the auspicious debut of a remarkable songwriter. Roche has the perspective of a young woman thoughtfully, if confusedly, making her way through the romantic, sexual, and career thickets of early adulthood. Her gift for wordplay expresses her uncertainties well. "There ought to be something to fall back on," she writes in "Down the Dream," "like a knife or a career." And her sense of romantic exploration is equally wary of the pitfalls, as she reveals in "Underneath the Moon": "A woman is like a puzzle/Shackin' up with the clues/While every piece she get/Is another piece she lose." The sisters trade off vocals and harmonize beautifully, adding to the songs' effectiveness and making Seductive Reasoning extraordinarily impressive.

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