Four Seasons: Summersongs

John McCutcheon
Rounder Records

WVA Occasional July 95

Because it's written by John McCutcheon and Si Kahn, it's no surprise that this cycle of songs about summer is upbeat and excited. At the same time, because these two penned the lyrics, there's more here than paeans to picnics.

"Dad and Me," for instance, is a sensitive portrayal of the feelings of a young person who lives with dad in the summer. "So just like every summer I'm riding on this train/wondering how my summer's gonna be/I wonder if he's happy, I wonder if he's scared/I wonder if he wonders just like me."

The miracles of a sky alive on a mid-summer night are recounted in the mystical "Meteors," which is paired with McCutcheon's instrumental "The Perseid." It's typical of his hammered dulcimer tunes, traditionally structured and played with energy, but there's a new twist. The lead instrument is played by Seamus Egan, who contributes whistle, flutes, uillean pipes and bodhran to the song.

Space is given to many perspectives; the ice cream man, his customers, the kid who hates summer, the boy with the awful haircut, and the child riding a bike for the first time are all here. In what may be the heaviest track he's ever recorded, McCutcheon tells the story of the first ride on a "Power Mower." Pete Kennedy's guitar, highlighted throughout the album, is especially apparent there.

John McCutcheon's family albums continue to fill a void in the music industry. These "Summersongs" are some of the warmest he's written. (1995, Rounder Records, Catalog #8036, 12 selections)

Rounder Records Corp.; 1 Camp St.; Cambridge, Mass, 02140

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