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Pollyanna’s Attic 
Artist: Carolyn Arends                                                                                    
Label: 2B Records
Length: 12 tracks / 47:11
 
Arends calls this ”a collection of songs I’ve kept close to my heart but never recorded …a little darker … a Holy Discontent” - intriguing for a singer whose work has previously been jumper-and-slippers comfortable - hence the title.
 
The album's secret is also its success. Arends plays the good cop, bad cop routine. Her good cop (the gentle Canadian voice, warm and appealing) draws you in close and then, unexpectedly, the 'bad' cop (a lyric powerful in its observation) hits you and makes you wince with the force of its blow. 
 
Without being self-righteous she exposes pretence and spotlights our failings. 
More Is Less - sonically and lyrically close to some of Charlie Peacock’s work on Kingdom Come – describes our consumerism for what it is:
 
          Here the dreams will make you bitter and the truth will leave you cold /
          ‘Cause there isn’t any refund on the lies that you are sold /
          This is how the world looks when we turn the means into the ends /
          Who on earth would ever guess less is more and more is less
 
She similarly pins the tail directly on the donkey’s rump in the excellent No Trespassing, which exposes our culture of apathy in the name of respecting others' privacy  (see www.carolynarends.com for the lyrics).
 
So, yes, this is darker, but in all the right ways and hope certainly gets the last word. 
 
Like much of her work, it is a grower, simple, spacious, spiritual and warm. Her distinctive acoustic guitar sound gets occasional support from trumpet, keyboards and bazouki, but it is the violin that complements her best.
 
Very few artists achieve her mix of breath-gentle voice, effortless melody and incisive lyrics. This CD rivals her excellent Seize the Day compilation, and should add more songwriting trophies to those already in her cabinet.
 
Derek Walker


 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
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