The Listening Room

My Favourite Sings
Kathy Mar

Review by Rob Wynne


Filk music has come a long way since its beginning, back in the mists of time (or, as far as I can divine, the 1930s, close enough). From mimeographed lyric books to handmade cassettes to professionally produced recoreds and today, CDs, the genre has grown up a lot, both in terms of the quality of its content and the quality of its presentation. As a result, there is now a tremendous amount of filk music available in recorded format for fans of science fiction and fantasy to choose from. It is my intention to try and devote some time to reviewing said recordings in this space, to help bring attention to you, our readers, to music worth listening to.

Kathy Mar has definately helped raise the level of quality in filk music over the years. When I think of Kathy's work, I mostly recall her as the writer/composer of such classic songs as "When Giants Walked", "Drink Up The River", and "Flowers for Algernon." She is also, however, a tremendously talented singer and guitarist, and she highlights these talents in her newest ablum, My Favorite Sings.

My Favorite Sings is a gorgeous album, from the sleek, artistic packaging to the rich, clean sound that highlights Kathy's voice and instrumental finesse. The songs are an eclectic mix of songs written by a variety of people, ranging from New York folk icon Christine Lavin to British filksinger Zander Nyrond. It's really hard to pick favourite tracks out of this one, but at least three songs really stand out.

Doug McArthur's "Merlin" is a chilling, hypnotic tune exploring the thoughts of the ancient wizard as he prepares to be inadvertently freed from his underground prison by the groundbreaking of a new shopping mall. Merlin is a facinating character, and the sketch provided of him here is intriguing. Zander Nyrond's "No Such Thing" reflects back on a time in Earth's history when dolphins and whales were not yet creatures of legend, and humans did not yet have to live inside pressure domes to protect them from the toxic air outside. And Dr. Jane Robinson's "Song of the Ripper" is an eerie look inside the head of the Whitechapel stalker.

All of the songs on this album feature not only Kathy's own virtuoso guitar work, but also a terrific group of backing support, including Kristoph Klover, Margaret Davis, and Deirdre McCarthy (each of Avalon Rising), and Mark Ungar and Cat Taylor (formerly of the San Francisco Celtic fusion band Phoenyx). The use of the didjeridu on "Water, Fire, and Smoke" is especially noteworthy, and lends to that track a mysterious atmosphere that suits it perfectly.

My Favorite Sings is the first offering from the new filk record label Prometheus Music. Based on this initial release, it will be well worth watching them. If you are a fan of filk, of sf and fantasy, or just of incredibly good folk music, you don't want to miss this album.


You can purchase copies of Kathy Mar's My Favourite Sings directly from Prometheus Music, or from filk dealers such as Random Factors or Southern Fried Filk.

You can listen to a trio of sample tracks from this album at MP3.com!


© 1999 Robert T. Wynne. All Rights Reserved.

Review copy of this album was provided by Prometheus Music. If you are a filk publisher (or a publisher of material that would be of interest to sf&f fans) and would like to provide Aphelion with copies of releases for review purposes, please contact Rob Wynne for details.


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