Wednesday, October 5, 2011

CD Review: “Steady Love” by Maria Muldaur

Steady Love is the next chapter in the career of Maria Grazia Rosa Domenica D'Amato better know to the music loving world as Maria Muldaur.

Forever famous to the pop music world for her 1974 hit (from her first solo album), “Midnight At The Oasis” Maria (then performing under Maria D’Amato) was already a mainstay on the folk scene in the early/mid ‘60s performing with John Sebastian, David Grisman, and Stefan Grossman as a member of the Even Dozen Jug Band. She was part of the Greenwich Village scene that included Bob Dylan, and memories of the period with respect to Dylan, appear in Martin Scorsese's 2005 documentary film, No Direction Home.

 By the time she garnered mainstream success with “Oasis”, she was already famous in folk/blues circles for her sweet voice and when she went on to more critical success with her second album, Waitress In A Donut Shop and her cover of the Peggy Lee tune, “I’m A Woman” no one was surprised. After this mid ‘70s commercial success, and having relocated to the bay area of San Francisco, Muldaur mainly recorded as a backing vocalist, notably with The Grateful Dead, and having abandoned pop music to release albums in  the genre of music that emerged from the ‘60s/’70s folk/country blues & blue grass scene that became known as Americana.

Maria Muldaur “Steady Love” 2011

With Steady Love Maria Muldaur continues that exploration of Americana, American Roots music or whatever other tag you wish to apply. The album is a wonderful collection of songs probably best described as Cajun Blues, Swamp Funk or as she describes it, “Bluesiana” music. Fittingly, she recorded this gritty, lowdown celebration with some of New Orleans best player, raiding the Neville Brother band , amongst others and putting them in the capable hands of keyboardist Dave Torkanowsky, sometimes referred to as the best piano player in NOLA.

But, as is her signature, Maria Muldaur chose songs from some of the greatest composers that display that Swampy funk and touch her soul. There is Elvin Bishops, “I’ll Be Glad”, Percy Mayfield’s “Please, Send Me Someone To Love”, Bobby Charles, “Why Are People Like That?” the gospel tinged “As An Eagle Stirreth In Her Nest” written by the Reverend W.H. Brewster and the traditional “I Done Made It Up In My Mind”.

The voice is not that high sweet voice that reportedly caused a population explosion. "'Midnight At The Oasis' was probably responsible for the conception of more children than any other song of the 1970's" as one critic put it. This voice has grits for breakfast. This voice is marinated in experience, this voice wants to romp around on a dance floor strewn with sawdust and peanut shells, and clap-hands. It is still a voice that celebrates good times, good music and the heart of American music.

The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2011 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

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