Randy Palmer – Deeper Water
There’s a gentle tug on the sleeve from past folkies like Hamilton Camp (“Star-Spangled Bus”) & more familiar names like Tom Rush, Buzz Clifford, David Ackles & Tom Paxton when traversing the Randy Palmer terrain. With 12-carefully composed tunes on his Deeper Water (Drops July 9-Berkalin Records) Palmer explores poignant subjects in a light-hearted fashion (“Carry On”). He’s most comfortable with the basic folk idiom. Friendships, living every day to its fullest, family relationships, childhood & the human condition. Randy does this with purity & tries to keep the songs from becoming too saccharine. Most of the time he succeeds easily.
Produced by Merel Bregante (drums/percussion/backup vocals) & recorded in Austin, TX the approach to these songs is modest with nothing obviously controversial, political, or novelty-oriented. Palmer’s warm vocals & smart lyrics will seem generous with a style that runs a finger across the rim of John Denver’s glass (“High Plains”). The “more hippie as a folky” individuality of a John Hartford or Jesse Colin Young is obvious as well in smaller doses.
With so many innovative folk singers passing away – like Utah Phillips, Pete Seeger, Guy Clark & David Olney the spaces they filled require voices below the line to break the surface. A reliable singer-songwriter such as Randy Palmer (acoustic guitar/vocals) – age not being a consideration with quality paramount, is a good choice.
“Welcome To My Home,” is excellent. Again, with its John Denver style & high lonesome harmonica, songs are well-composed & performed. What Palmer lacks in edge he has in folk devoutness. Taking simple situations & turning them into relatable short stories with a fine voice (“Sixty Years of Love”).
“Summer of ’65,” is pleasant nostalgia for those who lived it but for younger ears, this may sound more like a novelty, old shoes in the closet, unstrung tennis racket. But what Palmer achieves is wisdom in his song. He admits things he may have been more arrogant about in his younger days. Strong brave statement. There are generic songs such as “White Dog,” with its Loudon Wainwright/Eric Andersen nimbleness. Palmer’s voice gets Arlo Guthrie reedy but it’s charming. He’s consistent with his storytelling throughout.
“Deeper Water,” is a lesson about life & while many songs may be escapism for some there are lots of songs that resonate. It’s not Top 40 but then, not everyone prefers the fast-food commercialism of the mainstream charts. These songs are for ears that seek something richer & not predictable.
The players – Mark Epstein (electric bass/double bass/fretless bass), Michael Dorrien (acoustic/electric guitars), Cody Braun (fiddle/mandolin/harmonica), Peter Wasner (piano/keyboards/B3), Dave Pearlman (dobro/pedal steel guitar), Dirje Childs (cello), Trevor Smith (banjo), Billy Bright (mandolin), David Webb (piano/keyboards), Sarah Pierce, Betsey Palmer & Merri Palmer (background vocals).
Photo courtesy of Randy’s website. Listen & Purchase @ https://randypalmermusic.com/home