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Midnight On the Water

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Album Review

It sometimes seems that as they get older, folkies spend more and more of their concerts talking and less and less time singing. The exception to this tendency, at least on the basis of his 2006 live album Midnight on the Water, is David Mallett. Over the course of the hour covered on the disc, Mallett doesn't say much other than "Thank you" and "Goodbye" (once each) and offer the names of his backup musicians, Susan Crippen (violin and viola) and Michael Burd (bass). (He himself plays acoustic guitar and occasionally blows into a harmonica.) The rest of the running time is given over to performances of 17 of his songs, songs previously heard on albums of his released over a period of 25 years, from 1978 to 2003. Both ends of that range get special attention: Four songs come from his most recent studio album, Artist in Me, while five were introduced on his debut LP, Dave Mallett. In between are some of the better songs (all self-written) from throughout his career, including "Somewhere in Time" from This Town, "Summer of My Dreams" from For a Lifetime, and "Hometown Heroes" from Vital Signs. As Midnight on the Water appears on Mallett's own North Road Records label (it's his second release following Artist in Me), he may be trying to reclaim his song catalog from Flying Fish and Vanguard, for which he recorded earlier in his career. In any case, Midnight on the Water functions well as a Mallett best-of, capturing his lyrical, melodic music with its literate reflections on life, love, and the virtues of rural living, even if fans may miss such standout songs as "Red Red Rose" and his most valuable copyright, "Garden Song."


Born: 1951 in Sebec, ME

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s

David Mallett was working on the garden on his family's farm in rural Maine when he was inspired to run into the house, take a pencil and pad, and write a new song. In the decades since, "The Garden Song" has been covered by artists ranging from Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie to John Denver and the Muppets. Besides being translated and recorded in a lengthy list of languages, the song inspired a book, Inch by Inch, published by Harper Collins. Mallett, however, is not limited to just one song. A highly...
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Midnight On the Water, David Mallett
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