Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

MARIA MULDAUR

YES, WE CAN

2008-08-22

Maria Muldaur has been a lot of things over the year: a hippie love goddess, a bawdy blues mama, a jug-band folkie and, in more recent years, a jazz chanteuse. This disc features her debut as a protest singer. Surrounded by a cast of sympathetic souls such as Bonnie Raitt, Joan Baez, Odetta, Phoebe Snow and even Jane Fonda and a smoking hot band, the Free Radicals. (David Torkanowsky on keys, Tony Braunagel on drums, Hutch Hutchinson on bass and Shane Theriot on guitar), Muldaur applies her well seasoned pipes to songs of both protest and hope. Picking three anti-war, anti-violence gems from the Dylan songbook, "John Brown", "License to Kill" and "Masters of War" and Edwin Starr’s "W.A.R." Muldaur gets right to the heart of her despair over current events. She also looks to Marvin Gaye’s classic, "Inner City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler)" and Timothy Thomas’ "Why Can’t We Live Together" to catalog other issues weighing her down. After staking out the problem, she affirms her sense of hope with Earl King’s "Make A Better World", Allan Touissant’s "Yes We Can", Buddy & Julie Miller’s "This Old World" and Garth Brook’s "We Shall Be Free". And what would a protest disc be without a couple of good old sing alongs? "Pray for the USA" and "Down by the Riverside" give the assembled mass their "We Are the World" moments. Muldaur delivers all this material with a sense of conviction that sounds as heartfelt as any role she has occupied over the years. While the original versions of many of these songs are so well known that their message glides right past without much impact, the re-worked, often funky, treatment given to them by Muldaur and friends allows them to be heard in a fresh light making many of them powerful all over again. Smitty

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