AMB pilgrimsThe Annie Moses Band dons musical back-packs and goes down a different road on Pilgrims and Prodigals... The Annie Moses BandPilgrims and Prodigals
Man Alive Records
CD: 13 / 52:14 DVD:

The newest release from The Annie Moses Band brings the premier purveyors of chamber-pop down a somewhat new road. Pilgrims and Prodigals is more-or-less a concept album, keying into themes of choice and decision-making on the journey of life. Relying mostly on concepts related to Pilgrim's Progress, the tone of the album takes on an American folk flavor, often delving into the more western side of country -and-western music, especially on songs like "Progress" and "Girl of Constant Sorrow." In fact, if up until now the AMB has been labeled 'chamber pop,' then this might be a step in the direction of 'chamber country.'

Staring off with "Poor Wayfaring Pilgrim," a variation on the early nineteenth century spiritual/folk song about – you guessed it – traveling through life's journey, you can almost see the dusty winding road stretching out in front of you. Of course, thanks to the always-stunning arrangements of Bill Wolaver, this modest song kicks into a faster tempo near the middle and gets a jazzy, sophisticated treatment. The journeying continues on "The Road Well Traveled" and the question is then asked, "Where do we go From Here?"

One unexpected road the band goes down on Pilgrims and Prodigals is the inclusion of two covers of pop songs from the 70s ("Love Song" and "I Got a Name") and three adaptations of traditional folk tunes ("Poor Wayfaring Pilgrim," "Girl of Constant Sorrow" and the instrumental "Blarney Pilgrim"). The remaining ten originals feature the Wolaver family's signature sophisticated vocal and instrumental arrangements, insightful lyrics and dazzling musicianship.

Highlighting the ten originals are two of the finest (in this reviewer's opinion) songs that the Annie Moses Band has ever offered: "Blush" and "My Room." The first is an ode to the seemingly lost tradition of modesty, fidelity and respect. From "Blush":

"When hands were gentle and words were kind
and love could wait a long, long time
and private matters held their hush
and grooms were gallant and brides would blush"

"My Room" is one of the most moving, beautiful songs about leaving this life and moving to the next (another journey) that I've ever heard. "My Room" is brilliant songwriting and proves once again that Robin Wolaver is perhaps the finest lyricist around today.

"A final breath, a twinkling eye
and life will live and death will die
World away, come the day – light breaks the gloom
and I'll be with You – when I go to my room...."

Accompanying the audio disc is a DVD featuring a live concert performance interspersed with interview spots and featuring several songs that are not included on the album. To my ears, the live versions take just enough polish off of the studio renditions to make them more vital and more appealing. The DVD image quality, sound and direction are the best that I've seen for The Annie Moses Band.

As always, The Annie Moses Band lives up to their very high standard of musicianship, coming dangerously close to sounding too perfect and too pristine to touch the soul – but then they come up with amazing songs like "Blush" and "My Room" that make even this old rock and roller end up wiping a tear away.

Bert Saraco


{module Possibly Related Articles - Also search our Legacy Site}