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A Juggler on His Blades

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Album Review

Mid-Atlantic folk quartet Eddie from Ohio recorded their debut album for their own Virginia Soul label by turning up at their favorite venue, the Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia, with only producer Billy Wolf as an audience, playing their concert repertoire into a tape recorder. The two-acoustic-guitars-and-conga-drum sound, topped by frequent lead singer Julie Murphy, allowed for sharp, fresh arrangements of the songs, two-thirds of them written by Michael Clem, with the remainder contributed by Robbie Schaefer. Clem's lyrics told stories from a 20-something suburban perspective, whether he was musing about the partying that accompanies payday ("Payday in The Village"), a city's sinking into the mud ("Our Fair City"), or the funeral of a relative nobody liked very much ("A Very Fine Funeral"). His songs were full of the details of contemporary life: 7-11s, "Stairway to Heaven" on the radio, The Flintstones and The Jetsons on TV. And, of course, there was romantic discord, whether in the various secret signals that make infidelity too difficult in "Porchlight" or "lying by your 13th lover" in "Long Walk Home." Schaefer's songs often complement Clem's, but don't cut as deep. It doesn't much matter whether Murphy is singing Clem's lyrics or he or Schaefer sings them, except that the male voices tend to emphasize his debt to Paul Simon, especially in the city observations of "The Ghosts of St. George's Drive." A Juggler on His Blades was very much a debut album, more a collection of random songs than a cohesive effort, but it introduced a songwriter with a particular perspective and a group with its own sound. [The 1994 CD reissue added three songs.]


Formed: 1991 in Virginia

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '90s, '00s

This folk-rock quartet from the Washington, D.C./suburban Virginia area was only formed in 1991, but they've quickly become favorites on the folk festival circuit with their jazzy, rootsy blend of folk-rock. The group's popularity grew with the growth of Triple A (adult album alternative) radio stations in the 1990s, and their crossover appeal prevented them from being labeled purely a folk act. Composed of Julie Murphy (vocals), Robbie Schaefer (guitar and vocals), Eddie Hartness (percussion and...
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A Juggler on His Blades, Eddie from Ohio
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