DAVID GANS & ERIC RAWLINS Home By Morning (Perfectible)

Reviewed by Shaun Dale

There's an old cotton chamois shirt that doesn't spend much time hanging in my closet, because it spends so much time on my back. It's got a spot or two that won't quite come out, and it shows it's age in a couple of places. It doesn't look that promising on the hanger, but it feels so damn good on. In other words, it may not be the best shirt in my closet, but it's a favorite.

David Gans and Eric Rawlins have created a CD full of songs that feel like that shirt. Neither of them is likely to be recruited for the Metropolitan Opera, and they'd both admit to knowing better pickers, but their voices and instrumental chops are perfectly serviceable, and they fit the material as comfortably as that old cotton shirt fits me.

They're comfortable together, too. Their musical partnership didn't come about through commercial calculation. Rawlins is a software engineer and Gans is a jounalist and the host of the Grateful Dead Hour, a nationally distributed radio show. They hooked up musically at community sings organized through the Well, an online community centered in the San Francisco Bay area. They became well aquatinted long before the prodding of their fellow participants in the Well "sing things" led them into the studio.

The resulting album reflects its roots. The music has the feel of a couple of guys who got together with some friends to knock out a few songs. Of course, Gans and Rawlins' friends include folks like David Grisman, Darol Anger, Bobby Black and the SF a capella quartet Mary Schmary, along with many of the people who have joined Gans in the rotating lineup of his Broken Angels band. The tunes range from the western swing of "Crazy, Crazy, Crazy" to the Celtic tinged shanty "Jacqueline," with other songs covering a wide range of the styles covered by the description "singer/songwriter." There are seven Gans originals and three by Rawlins, along with covers of Kate Wolf's "Green Eyes" and Robert Hunter's "Yellow Moon."

Home By Morning has the "just folks" feel of the best folk music, the kind of feeling that can make an empty walk-up apartment feel like a cabin full of musical friends. It's worth searching out, and luckily you don't have to search far. It can be had at www.trufun.com, where you'll also find Gans and the Broken Angels CD single of his tune "Monica Lewinksy," a somewhat comic but ultimately sympathetic ode to one of the decades great involuntary celebrities. Check it out, and order a copy of the album. It'll be a fine morning when it arrives at your home.

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1999 - Shaun Dale