- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Lucy Kaplansky

The Red Thread

Red House Records

Like a lot of people in Manhattan, Lucy Kaplansky has taken stock lately of all the things for which she is grateful — home and family chief among them. Lost in the confusion after the attacks on the World Trade Center was her fourth album, “Every Single Day,” released September 11, 2001 It was edgier, darker and rockier than her previous work, which earned her notice as a singer-songwriter to watch.

For the new “The Red Thread,” a recording she considers a follow-up to 1999’s “Ten Year Night,” Miss Kaplansky and her husband, Richard Litvin, co-wrote six of 10 tracks. Musically reminiscent of the romantic songs they wrote together in the 1990s, the album revolves around home and family as its main lyrical themes. The couple recently adopted an infant from China, Molly, who figures into the title track; the opening cut, “I Had Something”; and “This Is Home.”

The terrorist attacks prompted one of the songs, “Land of the Living,” which Miss Kaplansky has been performing regularly to good response over the past two years. Unrest in the Middle East is the topic of “Line in the Sand.”

“Brooklyn Train,” packed with images and allusions to post-September 11 New York, aptly closes the record, featuring Miss Kaplansky’s voice with a spare accompanying piano. The song is a wide-shot, as in the closing credits of a film, when the camera seems to back away from the scene to deposit the audience gently back in the real world.

In her choice of cover songs for the balance of the record, Miss Kaplansky avoids dwelling too long at ground zero. James McMurtry’s “Off and Running” and Buddy Miller’s “Hole in My Head” give the disc a hint of the edge she achieved on “Every Single Day,” and Miss Kaplansky’s rendition of the late Dave Carter’s “Cowboy Singer” betrays her affinity for a highbrow country sound. Her choice of Bill Morrissey’s “Love Song/New York” proves that she’s in good company in her use of the city’s imagery.

“Thread” was produced by drummer Ben Wittman and features guitar work by frequent concert companions Duke Levine and Jon Herrington. Miss Kaplansky also calls on John Gorka and Richard Shindell, for whom she has provided memorable harmony, to repay the favor. She also is joined in harmony by Eliza Gilkyson and Jonatha Brooke.

“The Red Thread” is a heartfelt homecoming of a record that should win Miss Kaplansky more fans and acclaim.

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