Music Near and Far

Two new CDs show the scope of New Hampshire's music scene



Mighty Sam McClain knows a good thing when he sees it and his last CD with Persian songstress Mahsa Vahdat, “Scent of Reunion,” was a good, good thing. So good that it deserved a sequel, which Sam and Vahdat have just released with the returning assistance of Norwegian producer and poet Erik Hillestad. Part two of this collaboration, “A Deeper Tone of Longing,” finds both performers in splendid voice, echoing something unspoken but felt by many in the global tensions between West and Middle East. Poets and songwriters know what appears as hostility between individuals can sometimes be the spark that kindles love. These haunting, bilingual, bi-cultural songs of Mighty Sam and Mahsa Vahdat are the kind of tender breath that might nurture such a spark into a passionate flame of global understanding and affection.

The grand folk tradition of the Shaw Brothers is alive and well in the music of Don Watson. This collection of eight story-songs about the Granite State’s history (“Hannah Dustin,” “Willey Slide”) and predilections (“Pumpkin Pie,” “Autumn’s Song”) is unabashedly sentimental. It’s also so lyrically clever and musically adroit that it’s a bit like a holiday homecoming with Aunt Bertha and Uncle Everett who happen to have brought along their flock of hip and talented nephews for an after-hours jam session. The New Hampshire bona fides are on rich display with numerous references to local sources as varied as Fritz Wetherbee’s droll storytelling and stone wall builder Kevin Gardner’s “Granite Kiss.” Watson, who wrote all the songs with the assistance of co-lyricist Steve Redic, brings the real pathos and sweeping beauty of our state’s past and present to life in this album aptly titled “Welcome Home New Hampshire.”

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