Personnel: Bill Staines (vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards); Brian Wood (guitar); John Curtis (electric guitar, classical guitar, mandolin); Oisín McCauley (violin); Larry Luddecke (piano, organ); Stingy Lapel (congas).
Audio Mixers: Larry Luddecke; Bill Staines.
Liner Note Author: Bill Staines.
Recording information: Straight Up Studios, Arlington, MA (06/18/2012-06/23/2012).
Photographer: Bowen Staines.
Bill Staines has been a professional folksinger for more than 45 years. A quiet, indefatigable road warrior, he logs an impressive number of gigs every year, and at 65 he shows no signs of slowing down. Like his 2007 album, Old Dogs, this outing contemplates the certainty of mortality and the joys of a life well lived. Like a fine wine, Staines may be aging, but he's also getting better, producing songs that are richer, deeper, and more nuanced as the years roll on. He's always had a gift for finely wrought melodies, and lyrics that shine new light on familiar subjects, but his muse seems to be getting stronger and more luminous as he ages. The arrangements here feature Larry Luddecke's organ as often as they do Staines' guitar, and his subtle, sustained chords add a sanctified aura to songs that look back on a lifetime of singing and writing heartfelt music. "Salt Air" takes us on a stroll along the seashore, with Luddecke's churchy organ adding to the poignancy of Staines' Celtic-flavored melody and his gentle musings on the eternal nature of the sea and the soothing waves that can wash away the mundane complaints that insulate humans from nature's natural beauty. "If I Come to Need an Angel" is a quiet meditation on the inevitability of passing time that balances the reality of aging with a quiet faith in something bigger and wiser than this human life, and in the power of song to soothe our way as we make our final journey. "Ceremony" reminds us to celebrate every precious moment of life with an anthemic, uplifting chorus that will have you singing along with a tear in your eye. Staines' vocals are as gentle as ever, but they're imbued with the grace and beauty of a life well lived that gives them an uncommon power. ~ j. poet