Timothy Abbott & Arcana Mundi
Big Duets from Austin Texas, Vol. 1
This new release from Timothy Abbott & Arcana Mundi could have been called Big Spirituals from Austin Texas. This is an album that is firmly based in music that is very spiritual if not outright religious. The song styles explore territories from country (not that pop stuff), folk, blues with wisps of jazz and grains of rock. Songwriting partners, Timothy Abbott and Mark Epstein have come up some great songs for others to shine on. The vocals are sweet and the musicians are top notch. Epstein does most of the guitar work, adds bass and piano on a couple tracks. Red Young appears throughout the disc on keyboards and Joe Morales adds sax to several tracks. I also want to give credit to some great vocals by Malford Milligan, Katie Holmes, Tameca Jones, Kit Holmes, Candice Sanders and Paula Nelson. That said, my favorite vocal performance has to be Paula Nelson on “Sad and Lonesome”, her vocals inspire Tim Abbott to turn in his best vocal performance on the release. The song evokes people gathered around a campfire; you almost expect to hear the rattle of a snake in the distance, nobody talking everybody thinking to themselves. Bringing on that “Sad and Lonesome” feeling…”what are you doing, standing over there, acting like you don’t know me, that you don’t care.” I should also mention Cindy Cashdollar on steel guitar, Jeff Plankenhorn on dobro and Mickey Raphael on harmonica. Those three really bring it all together making this the best tune on the CD. Other favorites include ”River Jordan”, “We Are Not Alone”, “Road Signs” and the number 15 song (no info appears in the credits or song listing). In # 15, the singer laments his life and success…”I will die of a broken heart, Gypsy told me so. Told me things that made my blood run cold, left me helpless and alone”…”climbing up the ladder on the backs of friends and foe, how much damage have I done, I don’t care to know”. In the end, like Scrooge, he wonders if it may be too late for him…”is there a way to change my life, change this path I’m on, ‘cause I’m so tired so so tired, I know what’s done is done. Several times throughout the album the writer notes an afterlife, “I’ll be waiting on the other side of life” (Long After), “Walk on follow the light, ‘til you’re all the way to the other side” (Walk On). In other places he talks about forgiveness. “Dip me in the water, wash my sins away” (River Jordan) and “Wash away my sins forever” (Wash Away My Sins). “We Are Not Alone” talks about religions and the world we all share. Why do we kill or hate others whose beliefs are a little different than ours…”all religions are connected, just one God who watches over, who goes by many names. But are we too lost in our selfish ways, until we see the light, maybe then we’ll get it right. I also want to note that “We Are Not Alone” appears twice, in the alternate version the performance is a little grittier, which I prefer. Overall, I would say Timothy Abbott & Arcana Mundi have released a very solid album with Big Duets from Austin, Texas Vol. 1. I can’t wait to hear Vol. 2!