Forgive me, but I imagine the making of this CD as one great fairy-tale romp. There is a green hillside, I think, and a studio made of straw bales. The roof is a grassy turf on which Toggenburg goats are grazing. Banjo music is wafting from the windows, and the clean air is sweetened by new-mown hay.
Lumberjack men, and earth mothers in long flowing skirts, dance up the drive, carrying instrument cases inside from their battered old trucks. Suddenly a flock of doves flies from behind a hawthorn tree and out pops Rachael Davis, ready to record.
This CD opens with a squeal of laughter (and the epigrammatic “Dude!”) and ends with the child Rachael singing “Starflower-O”; thus is painted a picture of a young woman so full of hijinks it’s hard to believe she can settle herself down long enough to write a song, let alone to pen the thoughtful lyrics in this collection.
Davis’s voice is so supple and limber even the trickiest runs sound effortless, and she is joined by a brain trust that gets just how these songs should sound. This is another brilliant collaboration from the Earthwork Collective, one of my pet subjects because they so beautifully exemplify the Bard perspective, their mandate being the harmonious union of music and social action.
These lyrics reveal a sensitivity belied by Davis’s spirited delivery. There is an easygoing humour here, but the girl’s no slouch; her craftsmanship is meticulous, and there’s not a trace of those rhyming clichés that make us wince in so much commercial music.
At the same time she is thoroughly connected to American musical history and seems committed to keeping those forms and traditions—blues, bluegrass, and gospel are three that stand out—vibrantly alive. I think she’s even added a few songs to the canon.
Antebellum Queens lives up to three of The Mindful Bard’s criteria for music well worth a listen: 1) it is authentic, original, and delightful; 2) it makes me want to be a better artist; and 3) it provides respite from a sick and cruel world, a respite enabling me to renew myself for a return to mindful artistic endeavour.
-Rieview by Wanda Waterman \"The Voice\" Magazine