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Douglas Day - Barefoot to the Sea

~ CD Review ~

Feb 8, 2015
Kimmy Sophia Brown

On the idyllic cover photo of his 1993 album Barefoot to the Sea, athletic and handsome Douglas Day is gripping a guitar in one hand while leaping above ocean waves. The first time I listened to this CD though was a couple of weeks ago—twenty-two years after its release. I was on an hour drive to a meeting thinking I was going to hear some folk music when I put the CD in the CD player. I wasn’t prepared for the first song called “Inauguration Day” which starts out with a spirit-filled gospel choir welling up into a joyous, heart-splitting crescendo:

Evohe, I’m glad she came, to call upon the God of many names.

I started crying immediately. I pushed the repeat button three times on that song and cried all three times. This is a moving and beautiful hymn. When I got home I wondered, what does evohe mean? Collins Dictionary says it means, “Exclamation” or “Exclamation of Bacchic frenzy.” As Doug says in his liner notes:

Maya Angelou’s poem reminded me of the kind of prayer that Sophocles’ chorus frequently offers in Antigone: a “true yearning” which we hear ring in our own ears, hence my use of evohe in this chorus.

Ms. Angelou’s poem to which he was referring was the epic “On the Pulse of the Morning” which she composed and read for Bill Clinton’s first inauguration. The lyrics of this song are about Clinton’s inauguration but so much more. To me “Inauguration Day” is the crowning achievement of this album. To read Ms. Angelou’s poem go to this link: onthepulseofthemorning.

Doug Day Swans Island MaineDoug has the gift of a beautiful, bold voice with wonderful tone and power. I could listen to him all day. The album is expertly assembled and produced with superlative backup singers and musicians. The songs are unpredictable and original.

“License to Go Crazy” is about a girl he saw at a contra-dance who wore out seven partners and never stopped dancing! Prior to the song is a kind of Cheech and Chong skit over bongo drums, urging him to tell the story—quite funny.

There are a handful of straight forward, verypretty, major-key love songs: “Barefoot to the Sea”, “Something Like a Dream”, and “Say I Love You.”

The second exceptional gem here is “Just Love”—about arriving in Manhattan where he was going to live for the next five years. What makes this song special is the chorus when Doug elevates his volume and vocal register in the second line:

And I love, I love, I love, I love, um um um,
Oh yes, I love, I love, I love, I love, I just love.

The feeling he conveys of a heart full of hope and joy is contagious. This one made me cry too!

“My Bleecker Street” is lovely and jazzy—beautifully executed—with help from the excruciatingly talented Suzy Williams.

The other standout song is “The Curve Above the Door” written for Gamble Rogers, a friend and mentor of Doug, who worked with wood and boats and music. The opening lines talk about the thought process involved in placing a door while building a house—regarding elements, space, light, and weather.

And here I build a house to last beyond my lifetime,
and try to tell a story to last a hundred years or more.
I build it in the memory of a man of understanding,
bear with me if I labor on the curve above the door.

On the porch he held the guitar like a preacher holds a Bible,
like a farmer holds a plow blade, and a whetstone to a glide.
His thumb picks like the whetstone turning steel to music,
bringing up the edge of the story held inside.

And he played it in this kitchen where I’m storing these provisions,
For the serving of the dinners to give us more than food.
In this story there’s an adult
Not frightened by the title of husband and provider,
Responsible and good.

The song talks about a man who wasn't afraid to be a good man—who assumed the role of 'husband and provider'. The house is also a metaphor for life. Wonderful.

“Modern Gypsies in Milan” is an insightful look at children driven to crime all over the world, and the prayer for better times for the children of the future.

In some ways it doesn’t feel fair to review an album issued over twenty years ago. Artists change and grow, musical styles mature and update, life happens, and that evolves things too. The work speaks for itself though. This is an album to be proud of—uplifting and creative. To reach Doug please visit: sweetchariotmusicfestival.com.

Image used by permission of Douglas Day

Kimmy Sophia Brown has loved humor and music and freedom for as long as she can remember.She is especially passionate about the environment and caring for animals.

She writes the column "From the Back Porch" as well as reviews of music in her column "MusicViews". Her goal in her music reviews is to introduce music she loves to people who may not have heard that particular artist or CD. For information about how to submit a CD for review, click here.

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