The Keys to the Kingdom
2007, Mary Alice Amidon
With her son Sam Amidon as producer and 11 great back up musicians, Mary Alice Amidon, renowned Vermont folksinger and multi-instrumentalist (here heard on banjo, accordion, and piano as well as vocals), has stepped out on her own to make an album of songs old and new with many original compositions to add to the mix. Quite a bit of variety here, ranging from the up tempo old time feel with back up band, some wtih a bluesy jazz feel and some very tender, beautiful songs.
“I have been privileged to enjoy a life of performing and teaching children and adults, both with my husband Peter and my sons, Sam and Stefan now in their mid twenties. Since they were 4 and 7 years old we have sung and played music as a family, so it is with a delight that they are all playing on this album. I'm also excited to include here some very recently composed songs and tunes, on a creative roll in my midlife, so enjoy! This album represents a variety of music in my life, from gospel to old time, from my own original songs and tunes to traditional American and African American songs. I've enjoyed the opportunity to present this collection of songs as solo project for adults, stepping out a bit on my own.”
Sing Out magazine reviewed Keys to the Kingdom in their Winter 2008 issue (Vol. 51 #4) and wrote:
“Though the cover photo of her holding an open backed banjo might suggest that Amidon is a strictly old-time singer and instrumentalist, it won't be more than a few cuts into the disc before it becomes apparent that her music flows from a variety of sources—the arrangements across these seventeen tracks range from backwoods mountain music to some pretty jazzy stuff. The opening track, in fact, is a sweet version of iris DeMent's "Mama's Opry" that marks Amidon as a singer with a surprising depth and range. Much of the material on Keys to the Kingdom is traditional ("Warfare", "Sittin' on Top of the World" the title track), but in addition to DeMent she takes on the likes of Tom Waits ("Grapefruit Moon") with good results. Much of the disc,though, consists of original Amidon tunes like "Ransom and Emily" inspired by a gravestone in a Vermont churchyard, and they are uniformly intelligent and compelling songs. "
"Amidon's voice is clear, direct and at times sharp as a knife. It's always risky to employ the "cheap reviewer's trick of drawing comparisons to other voices (often more famous and commercially successful without implying "sounds just like" but Amidon is more than pleasantly reminiscent of the likes of Mary McCaslin and Debby McClatchy, and at times sounds a whole lot like what Carly Simon would sound like as a traditional singer."
Musicians Arnie Neiman and Kathy Reid Neiman wrote in to say:
"Your new cd is amazing - We love it! It has so much to offer- great taste, variety, awesome musicianship and creative arrangements, inspirational choice of material, and gorgeous delivery and vocals. It's a beautiful project - congratulations!"
- Mama's Opry
- My Dearest Dear
- Ransom and Emily
- Little girl Let Me Walk you Home
- Turtle Dove
- Say What You Want
- Great Dream from heaven
- Mae Smith
- The Gift of Love
- Keys to the Kingdom
- Grapefruit Moon
- I Wish I Had Someone to Love Me/The Welcome
- Original banjo tune medley
- Feel Like My Time Ain't Long
- Sittin' on Top of the world
- Psalm 126