I may at first have found the title of Kate's latest release daunting, as Religion and Politics are topics I generally avoid. But, as many fellow artists insist, the point is that these times are too troubling to avoid talking of politics, and how it intermingles with faith. In fact, the title is a little misleading, since the matters at hand could be called Spirit, Mercy, Love, and Time.
There's no finger-pointing here, just a call to consider where one stands. Kate Wallace is a rare singer songwriter with a lot on her mind, which she has always spoken freely. She made an indelible impression on so many of us in the ten years she spent in Nashville, and Brent Rowan produced a great Country record on her before she called it a decade and returned to her roots in Southern California, where she's still making great singer songwriter records and playing gigs with her multi-instrumentalist paramour Douglass Clegg. Kate's also been a key player in the Kerrville Folk Festival crowd down in Texas. And she hosts a great concert series in Santa Barbara called Trinity Backstage, you can check that out here.
Politics and Religion is a lush and masterful recording, and co-producer David West has everything to do with its triumph. The artist is herself a fine arranger with a veteran's ears and instincts, but the partnership with West really works. He also sings and plays acoustic and electric guitars and basses, mandolin, banjo, dobro, and keyboard. All righty, then.
Gabe Witcher on fiddle is sterling. Stringmeister troubador Michael Lille appears on acoustic lead on the opening and closing cuts, always first rate, and the Socal legend Kenny Edwards turns in a pair of great bass tracks. The most surprising cameo is one of Kate's idols, John Stewart, singing harmony on his beautiful composition, "Spirit." Kate's voice is awesome throughout, but it really killed me on the Pete Seeger closer, "Old Devil Time."
Songs to live by, and a voice to die for. More than impressive, deeply moving. Get it. • Frank Goodman