Tom MacKenzie

The Original Tom MacKenzie

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The Original Tom MacKenzie is a mixed bag -- some selections quite pleasant, others less so. The instrumentals are all gently melodious and show MacKenzie at his best as a composer, since these are all selections he has written himself. From "Four O'Clock Waltz, Path to the Bog" to "The March Thaw" and "The Bridge/Mud Walk" to "Mt. Ash, Crossed Eyed Cat, Dog Eared," MacKenzie's expertise on banjo and hammer dulcimer offers lilting, ear-pleasing tunes. Awkwardly, there's just something a bit less than exciting about MacKenzie's lyrics. They're nice enough, for the most part, just not particularly memorable. MacKenzie also lacks zest in his vocals -- they're mellow, but not rousing. Sometimes, though, the mellowness of his voice and the lyrics are a good match, as on "Wake Me When It's Over," a song about a sleep-deprived dad who has "been up since four." Parents of wakeful, playful babies will definitely sympathize. Other selections are less agreeable. "The Petticoat Whalers," to give the benefit of the doubt, is probably well intended, yet it sounds smug rather than complimentary with its lyric, "She'll wave her petticoat sail upon the bow." Female captains did nothing so frivolous -- they didn't wave, they worked. MacKenzie's grasp of history in this case offers some facts, but it is clear that he does not understand the spirit of those independent women; his lightweight ballad trivializes their efforts -- thumbs down on this one. On the other hand, though, thumbs up for "Aargh!," a catchy pirate tune with enjoyable harmonies in singalong-style choruses that feature the best of MacKenzie's lyrics as well. In all, varied though the selections are, there's enough pleasant easy listening on this album to make it worth adding to listeners' collections.