Maine singer/songwriter/guitarist David Mallett is a prot‚g‚ of Peter, Paul & Mary's Noel Paul Stookey, who co-produced this debut album with the artist and recorded it at his studio. Mallett is reminiscent of another songwriter who benefited from Peter, Paul & Mary's help, Gordon Lightfoot, boasting a reedy tenor that is somewhat reminiscent of Lightfoot's, if a bit less sonorous (and also a bit like Tom Paxton in his softer, ballad-singing mode), and a songwriting style similarly characterized by rhythmic, densely worded verses. Mallett has a distinctly rural sensibility, and he celebrates the gentle lives of farmers and fishermen who eke out a living from nature, notably on the relatively lengthy opening song, "Fire," a depiction of the destruction of a farmhouse struck by lightning. Romantic situations come up in the songs, but whether they are happy or unhappy, Mallett maintains a thoughtful, restrained posture. In fact, everything about this music and the artist suggested by the first-person lyrics is calm and understated. Mallett's greatest joy is expressed simply in the catchiest selection, "Garden Song," which is simply a celebration of man's ability to harness the wonder of nature, "Inch by inch, row by row." There is a religious element here and elsewhere, perhaps, in this song at least, with a sort of "God as nature" tilt, but it is subtly expressed, like everything else on this album. ~ William Ruhlmann
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