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Chris Godsey visits Bill Isles's "The Shores of My Home Town" and finds Isle's affectionate detail pleasant. Some of the playing on the disk is more than pleasant . . .
By Chris Godsey
December 12, 2006
Shroes

Bill Isles, "The Shores of My Hometown"

Nothing new happens here, but neither does anything offensively unskillful or poorly conceived. It's straight-ahead acoustic folk that aims for poetry, occasionally dips into lyrical and vocal treacle, and will most definitely appeal to people who dig such stuff.

Its song titles--"Headin' North," "At the Cabin," "My Minnesota Home"--suggest that it'll especially appeal to people with sentimental ties to this state.

Its lyrics don't leave much to the imagination--like these from "The Cabin": "In summer we going swimmin' / in the winter strap our snowshoes on / in spring the leaves are buddin' / by late October they're nearly gone / but the fire's always cracklin' / and the air is sweet and clean / the flora and fauna and the cedar and sauna / you know what I mean"--but that's part of why they're so comforting to Isles's audience.

The instrumental "The Prince and the Pauper" is very cool--sounds like any number of pleasing old-fashioned fiddle tunes.

And the song "Radio" quite nicely conveys the feeling of its subject matter. "Well the big advantage of an acoustic guitar / is that you can play it no matter you are / high upon a mountain at 10,000 feet / or all snowed in a bed sittin' next to me / when the kids were little they'd put on a show / homegrown entertainment, that's the best, you know / besides there's not much playin' on the radio."

April Verch's fiddle and Ted Heinonen's mandolin are consistently pleasing elements--they add substance to songs that otherwise might wind up a bit saccharine.

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