Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cheryl Wheeler Circles & Arrows 1990 and Mrs. Pinocci's Guitar 1995

Cheryl Wheeler is a wonderful folk singer-songwriter who has had a long and productive career. She owns a clear, beautiful voice, and pens some of the most touching love songs and ballads in the genre.

After her first two CDs on the tiny North Star label, she had one CD on Capitol (currently available on Rounder) entitled Circles & Arrows. It contains her own superior version of Aces (made famous by Suzy Bogus), but that's just the beginning of the list of great songs on this CD- Hard Line To Draw, Northern Girl, Moonlight And Roses, When You're Gone, Arrow- they're all gorgeous. There's also the hilarious Estate Sale, a jaunty little ditty about that swell hobby of "Going to dead people's houses, wonderful things they have collected" that is still one of her best joke songs. This CD also received excellent production by Kyle Lemming, and a cast of crack ace Nashville musicians, making it unique among her output.

The CD didn't produce a hit, so Wheeler's subsequent work, since 1993, has all been on the Philo/Rounder label. Her Philo CDs all contain some great songs and beautiful performances, but also several novelty joke songs and loving tributes to her pets that may or may not be your cup of tea. She is really funny, though, and the funny ones on Mrs. Pinocci's Guitar are some of her best. Is It Peace or Is It Prozac? is particularly hilarious. The CD also contains many of her best songs with the title track, Howl At The Moon, and One Love as good as anything she's done.

The follow up, 1999's Sylvia Hotel, is the most consistent of the other titles Wheeler has produced. If you ever get the chance to see her perform live, don't miss it. She is at once hilarious and touching, and her guitar playing and especially her singing are spot on. You'll laugh, you'll cry.

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