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New-to-me music: David Mallett

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I installed the Pandora app on my iPhone a month or so ago, and have been listening to it occasionally. But it somehow doesn't seem to fit the way I want to listen to music as well as the iPod app does, so I haven't listened to it all that much, and most of what it's played for me hasn't especially impressed me.

However, it has introduced me to one new-to-me musician who I like a lot: David Mallett, best known for having written "The Garden Song" way back when. I'd learned that song from Rise Up Singing (and some friends who knew the melody), and liked it quite a bit, but it hadn't occurred to me to look up more music by the person who wrote it.

The song of his that Pandora played for me was "Ballad of the St. Anne's Reel." The tune was catchy enough that I went and looked it up in the iTunes Store, where I found it on his compilation album Inches and Miles, a 20-song album from the early '90s that includes most of the songs from his first two albums and a couple from his third, from the late '70s and early '80s. I would not have guessed; in fact, I assumed he was a new up-and-coming folksinger until I started writing this entry and looked him up.

(If you want more than 30-second clips, or if you don't have iTunes, you can also buy the MP3 versions of the three original albums, David Mallett and Pennsylvania Sunrise and Hard Light, from CD Baby, where you can download and listen to free 2-minute clips from all the songs.)

I ended up buying the whole album from the iTunes Store. So for the past three weeks, every now and then in my iTunes rotation a pretty tune I haven't heard before comes on and makes me smile and I start tapping my toes and I look to see what the song is and it's another one from this album. I've only listened to about half the album so far, but I like every one of the songs I've heard.

I haven't yet listened to the lyrics as carefully as I would like, but the voice and guitar and occasional fiddle vaguely remind me in various ways of Bill Staines, John McCutcheon, James Keelaghan, Fred Small, and Lee Murdock, with a touch of country mixed in. (But much less political than McCutcheon and Small.)

Anyway, good stuff. If any of you like this kind of thing and don't know about Mallett, go listen to some clips and see what you think. I recommend starting with "Ballad of the St. Anne's Reel."

Of course, it may well be that everyone else who'd be interested knows about him already. I'm surprised that I've never heard of him before, given how long he's been writing and singing songs.

I haven't yet listened to any of his more recent stuff, but I'm looking forward to doing so.

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I can never hear The Garden Song without thinking of The Anti-Garden Song ("Slug by slug, weed by weed / My garden's really got me T'd").


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