Joanne Rand – Stay Awhile
This 8-song CD by Northern California’s Joanne Rand (vocals/piano/acoustic guitar) who released 18 LPs over a 35-year career has tunes anchored in her Southern roots (Georgia) mixed well with her more progressive West Coast traditions.
Her voice has a deep resonance more similar to Ferron than say, Judy Collins. With that type of tonality & authenticity she captures the traditions without being quirky (Iris Dement) or commercialized (Jewel). There’s always that danger of a folk song being so polished, arranged & perfected that it slides into a mainstream pop confection & loses its rural richness.
These 33 minutes hold the reins of the genre exceptionally (“Up All Night”). It just grips the ears in a vice as the Rob Diggins violin ties musical bows around the melody. It has similar melodic sway to Charlie Dore’s “Sleep All Day.” Two great songs that could segue into each other.
Written/arranged by Joanna & produced with Stephen Hart (David Bowie & Bonnie Raitt) Stay Awhile (Homefire Productions) dropped March 7th. Songs touch on personal struggles, redemption, life & family, as well as, the whirlpool of changes we witness personally & politically. Typical folk singer’s repertoire but Ms. Rand has a sharp compelling pen. A melodic treat.
Unfamiliar ears may find some thick & preachy but the music itself is the pinch of salt that prevents the pasta of words from sticking together. The taste of “Stay Awhile,” is always good. The melodies & vocalizing are entertaining (“Yellow Roses” & “Slow”). If a folk singer wants to get a particular idea across to listeners today — it’s a tightrope since an artist doesn’t know if they’re alienating an audience. That’s the risk. Joanne Rand sounds balanced.
With a voice that doesn’t have a Joan Baez radical tone (& Joan has a lovely voice, but she gets shrill). Joanne doesn’t. Her voice is full-bodied, warm & she makes her lyrics resonate. There’s a retro approach but it’s applied for color & not antiquity.
“Homefire,” is lovely. The vocals (maybe intentionally, for effect) on the chorus are sung a bit coarsely. The word “burning” is harsh with hard r’s which is contrary to good vocalizing. Most lyrics should end in a vowel. Singers can hold notes with ease. “Yesterday,” becomes “yesta-day.” But this song is good nonetheless – it’s just a little raw in the chorus.
By “Yo Heave Ho,” Ms. Rand’s songwriting slides into a Dory Previn tint. Dory explored similar subjects lyrically. This, & “Slow” is the most appealing & easily accessible. Joanne Rand is a delight & she’s always worth the time. I liked Joanne in 2016 & I like her even more now. Beautiful music.
The cover art could’ve been better. Ms. Rand’s attractive & her dynamic smile featured on the cover. Musicians: Tim Randles (bass), Piet Dalmolen (electric guitar) & Rob Diggins (violin).
Highlights – “Up All Night,” “Yo Heave Ho,” “Slow,” “Wanna Come Home,” “Take Me Back” & “Yellow Roses.”
Color photo from Joanne’s website. Music samples + CD @ https://joannerand.bandcamp.com/album/stay-awhile + https://joannerandmusic.com/