The Water's Edge

Kara Barnard / Troy Seele

Surf Records, 1997

http://www.karabarnard.com

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/13/1998

It's been interesting to see a rebirth of interest in folk music over the last few years. The Indigo Girls resparked my interest in the genre, Johnny Cash's "comeback" deepened it, John Denver's death reaffirmed it.

Now I can add Midwestern musicians Kara Barnard and Troy Seele, whose album The Water's Edgemy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 is another fine example of how alive this genre really is and how much it continues to grow. This album has just the right mixture of acoustic guitars and twang to appease anyone.

In fact, the only "disappointment" I found was that Seele's role on this album was limited to his guitar and dobro work, a disappointment that disappears quickly when you hear his talents on the six strings. True, it's hard to figure out sometimes if Barnard or Seele is playing the leads, but Seele's dobro work is evident, and is very good.

Barnard's vocals remind me a lot of Indigo Girl Amy Ray; there's a wonderful mixture of sophistication and savvy in her lyrical delivery. Her lyrics are an extension of her power; observations about life around her ("Pop Bottle Annie," "The Whiskey And The Pen") often carry as much of a homily as they do a commentary. But the softness of the music tempers any lecturing, and makes the songs work perfectly.

But ironically, the most powerful moments on The Water's Edge come from the instrumental numbers, where a little country spice thrown in. "Sweetiny" and "As Something" shows off the guitar talents of, of... well, I'm guessing it's Seele on lead guitar (the dobro tends to give this away), but the teamwork of Barnard and Seele is also quite evident. You can almost see their fingers flying on the frets as this one plays, and makes semi-guitarists like me very jealous.

In fact, the whole feel of The Water's Edge sounds like a cross between the Indigo Girls' folk and Toni Price's light country - and the mixture is brought to near perfection on this album.

The Water's Edge is an album you might have to search for - I doubt you'll find it floating around Sam Goody - but it's most definitely worth it. I could babble on and on about this one... but why? Let the music do the talking.

Rating: A-

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