Pioneering folksinger / singer-songwriter / protest singer Tom Paxton sounds a tad geezerish (at 70) on his new Comedians & Angels CD, but 15 original songs are nothing to wheeze at, and rather than register as a failing voice, Paxton's rings warm and patient. In the refrain of the opening tune, "How beautiful upon the mountain / Are the steps of those who walk in peace" (from Isaiah), where a tyro -- including the1960s Paxton -- might have waxed bombastic, hes restrained while remaining intense. You can easily imagine his eyes glowing with the aging activists gratification at the next generations taking up the fight.
The songs straightforwardness might raise a "simplistic" flag. But "Deep in the peace of the morning, I see: / She is my reason to be" and "The Mets were either best or worst, / And Marx was wrong or right" suggest their emotional depth and concreteness. Paxton calls them "[l]ove songs, songs of remembrance and regret, even a hymn." Several are very catchy, too.
The arrangements mirror Paxtons clarity, warmth, and honesty. Lots of folks contribute to the tracks -- on backing vocals, guitar, bass, keyboard, accordion, and more. But they show their talents in blending, not in standing out, so you walk away with Paxtons words and melodies in your head. Production, engineering, and mastering do not sound like one days work. You hear each tracks multiple players without getting a cacophony, and each of the many sounds is clear.
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