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PAMELA REINAGEL - Still Waters Run Deep

PAMELA REINAGEL - Still Waters Run Deep
Private Label

California-based Pamela is a ballad singer of the old storytelling tradition, whose repertoire consists for the most part of anonymous traditional folk songs from America, England and Ireland, as well as Australia. Referencing historical and contemporary sources, her method is to construct a version of the lyrics that she feels best tells a coherent story, and the version of the melody she feels best captures its mood.

On this album, which would appear to be her third release to date, she expands from the purely traditional sources out into the realm of recently written songs with traditional elements, taking in Steve Voitko’s modal Shallow Was The Grave, Kate Wolf’s The Lilac And The Apple, Martyn Wyndham-Read’s superb convict ballad Far And Fatal Shore and Sting’s haunting You Will Be My Ain True Love – and even a lovely villanelle-derived hymn of her own devising, She Let Her Sword Fall.

Pamela is blessed with an impressively clear, confident singing voice that sports a well-rounded, even tone, a firm sense of line with a good sustain and a natural accuracy of pitch that allows her appreciation of melody to mindfully complement her understanding and realisation of the narrative. Her singing is plain yet in no way dull; unaffected yet not lacking in emotional commitment. Two-thirds of the CD’s tracks are performed a cappella, which here demonstrates the enduring qualities of Pamela’s voice, and the special guest harmonies on the Sting number (courtesy of Jenn Hajj) are lovely. Pamela proves herself vocally well appointed for the more rootsy items too, such as Country Blues (from Dock Boggs via Doc Watson) and the Alan-Lomax-sourced Another Man Done Gone. Just occasionally, though (as on Motherless Child), the nonetheless enviable pinpoint precision of Pamela’s delivery, together with her penchant for taking a measured approach to the final syllables at the ends of lines, may seem to unduly extend proceedings. On the non-a-cappella tracks, there’s a sensitive and lyrical guitar backing from either Don Strandberg or Barry Dubis.

Still Waters Run Deep turns out to be a very persuasive collection which has satisfied me much over the brief period I’ve been privileged to have made its acquaintance.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 111 of The Living Tradition magazine.