Monday, March 26, 2012

CD REVIEW - Elena Yeung - Dandelion

By W.J. Hallock

Elena Yeung  -  Dandelion

Released: June 2011

I love my “JOB!” And, I know just how Forrest Gump feels concerning a box of chocolates…… I’ll get a new CD in the mail, have not a clue who or what is waiting inside for me, I’ll open it….. and it’ll end up being Christmas morning!!! 

When Elena Yeung’s new CD, “Dandelion,” arrived, it came with a very polite, hand-written request to be reviewed. How nice, in this age of e-mails, texting and twitter to get correspondence personalized in the author’s own hand! A strong, but delicate and legible cursive….. with an attention to detail, etiquette and correctness like I haven’t seen in years. You bet I’ll review it Ms. Yeung!

I immediately got a sense of 60’s folk music when I listened the first time. Elena’s voice is so reminiscent of those lovely ladies I grew up with. Joan Baez, Buffy Saint-Marie, Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, Mimi Farina…..

But, hers has a simple sweetness all it’s own. Elena would stand out even among those celebrated voices. And she knows how to use her voice for maximum affect. She may be from British Columbia, Canada, but her control, delivery and style are very much “up town.” Yes, she’s bluegrass… and old timey…. and gospel…. and traditional….. but, eclectic seems to best describe Elena Yeung. 

All the songs, except a banjo and vocal excursion using “Get Along Home Cindy, Cindy,” are originals. And that 60’s innocence and naiveté is present here, also. Listen to “The Flagpole,” and you’ll hear the story of that kid in your class who had to touch his tongue to the flagpole to see if it would, indeed, stick. And she must love trains, because both “I’m Gonna Be An Engineer” and “Train, Black As Night,” couldn't be better written about the subject. Her wordplay is simplistic, but far from simple. In reading the lyrics in her liner notes, she could just as well be in a Greenwich Village coffee house reciting them as poetry as singing them. Case in point, “Promise Of Silver And Gold,” is as haunting and sweet when read as it is in its musical form. The song is one of the CD’s highlights. 

The most interesting, “knock ME out” track, is a gospel one….and a very GOOD one at that. On “Gonna Build Me A Boat,” Elena sings with the a cappella group “The Persuasions.” These gentlemen have been together for fifty years now, and hearing them here is a sweet treat! Absolutely SUPER! Elena traveled to the East coast, got these men into Take 5 Studios in New Jersey, and with their help, recorded a GEM! To hear their harmonies, along with Elena, is worth the price of admission. AND…. it seems so natural for her to work with them. New York City meets Creston, BC! AND… it fits right in on an acoustic music CD. The crowds at “Merlefest” or “Telluride” would go crazy if they got the chance to hear this song done LIVE by Eleana and The Persuasions. No fences… no boundaries……… 

Besides her songs and her voice, her banjo is the other constant in this audio Polaroid. She definitely is a bluegrass girl when she kicks off one of her songs. Dexterity, feel and timing are her forte. She has obviously spent years listening to and learning from the best. And she surrounds herself with really solid friends, pickers and singers that make “HER” sound a reality. No less that eighteen people make up the musician roster here. And on the production side, she has co-producer Ben Winship and tech support from Jason Deatherage. She and Jason also recorded several of her banjo tracks at her home studio, “The Pillow Fort.” Learning to record on your own is like learning a new instrument….. and with all the equipment now available, teaching yourself to use all the available “toys” falls under the category of “Necessary Knowledge.” Elena shows on this CD that she has no lack of courage and fortitude. Her “make it happen” attitude could be her most important talent. All she needs now is for the rest of the world to get a chance to enjoy her music……. Why don’t each and every one of you reading this get a copy of “Dandelion” and you’ll be in on one of Canada’s best kept secrets.


No comments:

Post a Comment

ALL comments are moderated and must be approved by the administrator of this blog. SPAM Comments, HATE Comments and general dis-respect will be ignored and deleted. Opposite opinion comments will be posted if presented in a polite and professional approach.

Subscribe Now: RSS Reader