There Is a Song

The Free Design

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There Is a Song Review

by Tim Sendra

There Is a Song was the last Free Design record the group made until 2001's Cosmic Peekaboo. It was recorded during a time of change for the group and the Dedrick family, as the group had parted with its label, Project 3, and Chris Dedrick moved to Canada. The album was released on the tiny New York label Ambrotype and was even easier to ignore than their other releases. Luckily for fans of the band, Light in the Attic rescued it from its fate and put the album out on CD, because it is definitely worth hearing. The group moved away from the big arrangements and orchestras of its past releases; most of the album is anchored musically by simple acoustic guitars and colored in subtly by just a few horns and strings. Their rich vocal harmonies hadn't changed at all, however, as Chris and sisters Ellen and Sandra sound as innocent and star-struck as ever. Despite its obscurity, the album holds some of the group's finest compositions and performances, like the relentlessly upbeat "Canada in Springtime," the sweetly spiritual "Peter, Paul and Mary," the bouncy "I Wanna Be There," and the breathtakingly clear-and-cool title track. The Dedricks fell in with a philosophy professor named Arthur Mills while in Canada, and many of the songs have a trippy, deeply felt intellectual point of view that comes from his teachings. As Chris says in the liner notes, they were exploring new definitions of love, freeing themselves from previously held notions of love, and opening themselves up to the possibilities of love and life. Songs like "The Symbols Ring," "Love Does Not Die," and "There Is a Song" delve into these issues, but manage to escape being pedantic or clunky by being so wonderfully melodic and beautiful. In fact, the entire record is beautiful, and while it doesn't have any jaw-dropping moments like "Kites are Fun," "Bubbles," or "My Brother Woody," the album may be the group's most fully realized and rewarding endeavor.

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