Link to Living Tradition Homepage





LARRY KAPLAN - Furthermore...

LARRY KAPLAN - Furthermore...
Folk Legacy Records CD148

When this CD came through my letterbox, I thought “that name of Kaplan is not new to me”. And it wasn’t. But I was thinking of Hyman and not Larry, for Hyman Kaplan is of course the central character in the late Leo Rosten’s The Education Of Hyman Kaplan of the most wonderfully funny books ever written, and one I have re-read every five years or so, since I was a teenager.

So indeed, Larry here, was a new name to me. And since his first album for the Folk Legacy label was released as far back as 1993, I cannot help feeling that the loss has been all mine. For the truth is, that I was disarmed and somewhat charmed by this CD.

First, the voice. He sounds like the chap next door: and that is not a put-down in any way. What I mean to say is, he is the very antithesis of the flashy. And judging by the cover photo, he even looks like the chap on the top of the Clapham omnibus..!! And trust me...looks and sound are kind of integral to the overall effect: they merge effortlessly with the largely self-penned songs. The net result is an album that avoids the spotlight of the big stage: rather it takes you on a journey that avoids the highways and neon lit downtowns of America, instead favouring the byways, and with a particular penchant for telling nautical stories. And makes the occasional excursion beyond his own shores, like a trip Down By The Salley Gardens to WB Yeats.

He has corralled some fine musicians into accompanying him: it was great to hear the unmistakeable cello of Abby Newton again. I last heard her when I reviewed a fine CD by the much missed Jean Redpath. Nice to hear the vocals of Greg Artzner & Terry Leonino again too, after many years.

And talking of vocals: I have to say that I was stunned by the sheer beauty of the bass voice of multi-instrumentalist Grey Larsen on One Last Ride To The Durham Fair, my favourite track on the album. And if all this was not enough, Larry has our own Brian McNeill, no less, to perform on the final track, an imaginative song Francis, Dear Sir aimed at Francis James Child...and McNeill’s appearance, let alone those of the other talented performers, gives the album its vital imprimatur for a British audience.

Mind you, Larry will lose some of that street cred with British folkies in his use of the common American lowbrow acapella spelling for the Italian term a cappella...which we Brits still largely adhere to. But then, methinks that spelling itself, is a largely fifth rate art, soon to be superseded for ever by txtspk.

Are there any songs here that will still be sung in 50 years time? Probably not. But that doesn’t damn this album. I have reviewed CDs where the songs will sometimes not be sung in 50 months time, let alone years. But that lack of real legs and future longevity aside, it is still a most interesting album of thoughtful well-constructed songs, that take you on a journey through America’s past, and invoke a mood considerably more balanced, nuanced and softly “spoken” than the shrill cries from both sides that I hear in their presidential debate being replayed on my TV as I write this.

Dai Woosnam

Secure On-line mailorder service
Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 116 of The Living Tradition magazine.