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Wild Bouquet

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The Burns Sisters may not have announced their breakup after the release of their seventh album, Out of the Blue, on Philo Records in 2000, and they may not have announced their re-formation upon the release of their eighth album, Wild Bouquet, in 2006, but in the intervening years Annie Burns, Jeannie Burns, and Marie Burns worked separately, each releasing solo albums. If the reunion was long in coming, however, it seems very carefully timed. When Out of the Blue appeared, Bill Clinton was in the last year of his presidency, which, if it was marred by scandal, was also marked by peace and prosperity. That seemed like ancient history six years later, in the wake of 9/11 and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Wild Bouquet, released weeks before the Congressional elections of 2006, contained the sisters' take on the state of the nation. They began and ended the hour-long disc with topical material, leading things off with Leonard Cohen's "Democracy," followed by two Woody Guthrie songs, "God's Promise" (a Guthrie lyric later to set to music by Ellis Paul) and "Vigilante Man." Tracks 12, 13, and 14 made the group's position clear. First, there was their reading of Steven Van Zandt's "I Am a Patriot," followed by a performance of the traditional "Johnny We Hardly Knew Ya," and then Marie Burns' original "Bring Them Home," which explicitly called for withdrawal of American troops from Iraq and contained spoken word remarks by soldiers who had served there and later regretted it. The album concluded on a religious note with a folk arrangement of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Pie Jesu." While the political material was compelling, it bookended a clutch of eight quite different songs in the middle of the disc. In this oasis, the sisters eschewed international politics for personal matters of love and family. Here, each sister's different tastes became apparent. Alto singer Jeannie Burns contributed "Ella," a mother's song to her baby daughter, as well as an impassioned version of Ann Peebles' "Can't Stand the Rain" (aka "I Can't Stand the Rain"). Marie Burns revealed more of a bent toward country music on her originals "Wild Flower Honey" and "The Time of Day," as well as a cover of "Blue Diamond." And Annie Burns came off as the closest to a conventionally pop-oriented folk-rock singer/songwriter with "To Live Again," "Never Loved at All," and "Nowhere to Fall." On these songs, the three singers seemed like three solo acts with their sisters offering backup. They also seemed to focus more inward, while the album's beginning and closing songs looked outward at the world. It was a lot of material in a number of different styles, demonstrating that the Burns Sisters were even stronger a group of talents after their years apart and that they were united in their political beliefs, which they expressed eloquently.

Wild Bouquet, Burns Sisters Band
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