Review by Tony Smith
In this diverse selection the first three tracks establish the CD’s credentials.
Above all, they demonstrate that this trio is capable of expressing great warmth musically.
The individual players’ instrumental abilities are outstanding and their vocal harmonies show a fine sense of ensemble.
In ‘I Know My Baby’ (BJ Thomas), both the instruments and the vocal harmonies produce a pleasant bluegrass feel.
There are echoes here of the age of Pentangle.
The track’s very clear and clean lines make it an excellent introduction.
‘Funky Country’ (Ann Palumbo) again features pleasant harmonies and fine guitar work. This track is guaranteed to get any audience dancing.
‘Golden Brown’ (The Stranglers) features some resonant singing by Paul, and – no surprise by now – even more great harmonies. The stringed instruments work exceptionally well here, especially the bass runs on the guitar. Indeed the balance of the stringed instruments is strong throughout ‘Rapt’.
I might be prejudiced but I really enjoyed those tracks where the banjo is prominent.
‘Adieu False Heart/Poor Wayfaring Stranger’ (Arthur Smith/ trad) is as enjoyable a version as I’ve heard. In this arrangement, the banjo goes tiptoeing beneath the sweet harmonies of the female voices. This is true blues in the traditional cotton-fields sense.
‘Loverman’ (Davis, Ramirez, Sherman) is a ‘chill’ track. The jazz and cool blues feel here and on ‘Freebird’ (Rosie McDonald), a finger clicking jazz/blues piece, shows the diversity of this band’s interests and skills.
‘All Been Good’ (Dion Palumbo) has some great banjo picking in the introduction and instrumental break. In this upbeat number the lyrics are basic but fit the music neatly.
‘Present Company and Absent Friends’ (Rosie McDonald) is a flowing instrumental and ‘Treasures’ (Ann Palumbo) describes making a new home and the importance of sharing our riches with those in need.
The inclusion of ‘Boots of Spanish Leather’ (Dylan) and ‘Bird on the Wire’ (Cohen – dedicated to Grant) is interesting. Both contemporary songwriters should be proud of the way RAPT cover their classics.
Leonard Cohen fans will enjoy Paul’s slow, deep and melancholy voice.
Traditional music fans will probably find older songs and tunes the most enjoyable.
There is some fine picking on ‘Seven Yellow Gypsies’ (trad) underlaid with bowed bass.
‘Pirus Rozsak/Halijatok Ciganok/Odessa Bulgarish’ (trad) are suggestive of gypsy/flamenco guitar style. These tunes display some interesting changes of tempo.
The Eastern Mediterranean / Balkans feel adds to the album’s sense of diversity.
‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine’ (trad) is sung partly as a round. The arrangement shows RAPT capable of very complex performance. Add to this confidence and musicianship, the album’s five original tracks and it is certain that RAPT should have a future beyond ‘Rapt’.