It's a Beautiful Life
LIVE -From the Old Theatre: "An Evening with Anne Haley and Friends"
It’s probably a little late to do anything with this review-this season, but I wanted to highlight the music of friend who has made a warm and wonderful Christmas album, most worthy of family time around the table, tree… or manger.
Album: It’s a Beautiful Life.
Disk opens with a tribute to her beloved….(supported on a cushion of soft fiddle and mandolin) Lighthouse:
Sometimes I lose a sense of my direction, I cannot seem to let love be my guide, Sometimes it doesn’t seem to be enough protection, from the howling winds and crashing waves that roll across my mind.
When the cold winds blow….
And as I near the rocks, I don’t know if I will sink or swim…then you enter my thoughts and your love will pull me safely in….
Song two, It’s a Beautiful Life (parts)
Covered lots of ground it seems in such a short time, takin’ offbeat paths along the road that might have lead us astray, shouted questions to the universe, then doubted all of its answers, wondering if we even make it anyway, but here we stand hand in hand, on this road that seems less traveled… and when it comes to love the answer is as simple as it can be.
It’s a beautiful life, good cup of coffee, and some lovely conversation. ….watching stars come out over God’s great plantation, we rise we fall, we’ve been through it all, Murphy’s law can say whatever it likes, caue when your eyes meet mine, I know… inside, baby it’s a beautiful life.
Disk 2: Christmas.
As is, I was hooked and surprised by the very first song. I’m not a real bluegrass devotee, but I own a disk called “Sugar Plums” put out by the bluegrass powerhouse label Sugar Hill. Sugar Plums is a superb disk that features a robust and diverse collection of Bluegrass, folk, and Primitive approaches to Christmas music. I was pretty sure I was the only one who owned this disk. Turns out Anne likes it too, and has borrowed a couple of tunes, one of which (Christ was born in Bethlehem) she sings with decidedly less twang. Anne’s opening cover of a song penned by Americanna Artist Tim Obrien, (Making Plans) really charms, and sets the stage for a loving, faith affirming romp through a wonderland of hearth and home, with Christ firmly at the Center. (In fact, Anne makes a reading from the Gospel of Luke the “centerfold” of her album, placing it square in the middle.
I don’t have a lot more to say about this album, for the simple reason that it simply works. Anne has opted not so much for innovation, but re-creation from a time tested cannon. But what she recreates she does with such warmth and sensitivity (and with clean lean country production) that this disk will easily make it into routine play around my house this December. I readily recommend it.
Addendum: Shorty after publishing this, I sent word to Anne: Her words in reply further illustrate why she is such a gem (and help clarify a few points.) She writes:
Anne Haley 17 December at 18:56
WOW..isn't this something! THANK YOU KIRK!! I just tried to pull a fast one and call you...BUT....according to the White Pages, your number has been changed. SO MUCH for your kind words. I really appreciate it. This seems "inadequate," as I wanted to give you a proper "thank you." Tell your wife I AM one of those you could call in a pinch! Might take me a little while to get there, but I'D COME! :)
As an aside, you GOT IT..."the REASON" I record as I do is because I WANT my recordings to be as much like my live shows as possible...relaxed, comfortable, IN YOUR PARLOR. The reason for the "change in voice" on the Christmas album is was also decided. I wanted to showcase a few different variations on what we "hear" at Christmas. I love to sing ALL styles and was able to perform those, again, in almost a quiet, piano bar (coffee or tea) setting!
Yes, indeed, Lighthouse is for my "beloved." It is for God.
It's a Beautiful Life resulted from a conversation that I was having with my "earthly beloved." We were driving thru Swansboro, NC...W said, "You know it's a beautiful life that we have." And I said, "Yep, W you're exactly right!!! NOW HOLD THAT THOUGHT!! And I wrote the song in the car immediately! LOL!
So, you foiled my plans to sneak a call in on you...and I have to say thank you via a typed message. "Not my style," but I suppose it will have to suffice.
I'm thankful for Pam Kemp and spirited discussions...I am so proud to have friends like you Kirk. You're a jewel...and like you I REFUSE to wish ANYONE a happy "holiday." "Holidays" are what Europeans do on "vacation," which also bugs me...coming from the derivative of HOLY. Go figure. I'm just as confused as you are! I'm guessing that's a good thing.
Again, thank you Kirk. I really appreciate your thoughts, opinion and most of all that you find enjoyment in what I love to share with others. THAT has been one of the MANY gifts that God has given me in order to connect with others.
My very, very best to you and yours!
Your VIRTUAL friend, (does that mean we are virtually friends?)