While Kate McDonnell qualifies as a fine contemporary folkie, she isn't the type of singer who forgets her roots on Where the Mangoes Are. On self-penned songs like "Tumbleweed" and "Go Down Moses," she relies on electric guitars and drums to deliver the message. But her thoughtful reflections on "Hey Joe" and her politics on "Mercy" hark back to an earlier time. McDonnell's even capable of playing the old-school folkie straight on "Railroad Bill," a nice traditional piece done in a style that recalls an early Joan Baez. This combination effectively gives McDonnell's songs a tuneful groove and a thoughtful depth. It doesn't hurt that she's a good singer who has taken her lyrics to heart, giving the words of a song like "5:05" an emotional edge. It's also helpful that McDonnell receives backup from a solid band, fully capable of mixing up the arrangements to suit the needs of each song. Electric guitarist Marc Shulman and violinist/harmonica/accordion player Mindy Jostyn provide stellar support, while bassist Scott Petito and drummer Sam Brewton keep the whole affair grounded. While the album is good to the last track, it's possible that some listeners will find a piece like "Mercy" a bit preachy. McDonnell, however, never lets her political views overrun her ability to make good music. Folkies young and old will enjoy Where the Mangoes Are.
AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.