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The first thing you will notice about Coyotes new album, HOME TO ME is the sheer variety of musical styles and influences that the band embraces. It starts with the Yiddish-influenced paean to ?Maestro,? full of dark minor chords and the wry humor and humanity that evoke this mentor figure. With the fiddle, mandolin and accordion, you would swear you can hear the bouzouki tuning up in the back. The next song, the title track, reminds me of Paul Simon playful, reflective and full of warmth. These two songs are a pretty good introduction to Coyote for several reasons. They demonstrate the wealth of musical culture that has influenced them. You can also hear the wit and humor and love that suffuse all their music. But most importantly, you get a sense of how much of Coyotes best music is born directly from personal, human experience. This album is completely aware of itself as a song of joy in response to a range of trials and triumphs. These most deeply personal and reflective songs are interspersed with covers of various standards and personal favorites of the band. Hank Williams IM SO LONESOME I COULD CRY may have been covered more often than HAPPY BIRTHDAY, but it always seems to be worth recording again. Let me say a word about songs like this. There are songs that embody an experience so personal and universal that each reworking reminds us of the universal while revealing something about the artist. (Think of AMAZING GRACE) I think the reason we come back to these songs again and again is that they broaden the scope of our experience while confirming the power of our own encounter with that human universal. From the mournful Hank Williams, to the rueful Allman Brothers, to the exuberant Beatles, Coyote infuses each with the lively wisdom and warmth that characterize them. That reflection is a good introduction to the other class of songs on the album, songs born out of the fear, hope and joy connected to Marcy Brenners fight with breast cancer. What I find most remarkable about this sort of confessional songwriting is the utter honesty, sometimes bleak, sometimes gleeful. Coyote has translated that range of experience into a musical expression of fear, courage and joy. For those who are new to the band, Coyote is the duo of Marcy Brenner and Lou Castro. On earlier albums, Lou?s guitar work has been prominently figured next to Marcys alto vocals and mandolin. On this album, however, what I notice is not the instrumentation so much as the songwriting, though Lou plays with characteristic artistry. What strikes me most is each songs insistence on being true to its inspiration, to telling honestly and bravely about the love, fear, tragedy or triumph that called it into being. Charles Temple, Ocracoke Observer


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