Garrison Keillor

When I Get Home: Songs

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Garrison Keillor is an acclaimed radio host and author, and occasionally on his long-running program, A Prairie Home Companion, he has raised his voice in song. Unfortunately, he isn't much of a singer, which is confirmed by a listen to this album devoted entirely to his musical efforts. Backed by the Guy's All-Star Shoe Band, Keillor sings traditional country material, sometimes augmented with his own lyrics. Actually, his singing voice isn't technically that bad; he probably has a wider range than some professional singers, say Bob Dylan or Lou Reed. But he is an amateur in the sense that he doesn't really work at his singing -- his breath control is lacking, his sense of pitch dodgy, and he swallows his words, sometimes making it difficult to understand them. In sum, he sounds more like a man in the privacy of his shower musing to himself, rather than someone trying to entertain listeners. He is actually more effective when he is less ambitious, when he avoids quick tempos and any attempt to croon, and instead talk-sings his way through, so that his occasionally witty lyrics can be followed more easily. Still, it's hard to imagine anyone wanting to listen to this recording absent Keillor's renown in other fields. Nevertheless, the album may appeal to the many fans of A Prairie Home Companion, who doubtless have been indulging Keillor's musical shortcomings over the radio for a long time.

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