Yes We Can!

Yes We Can!

by Maria MuldaurMaria Muldaur


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There are a number of arguments to be made for and against Maria Muldaur's 2008 antiwar statement Yes We Can! on Telarc (before actually listening to it; remember, we live in a cynical culture). The "perceived" negatives all relate to the intent of the recording and who it's supposed to reach (no doubt an expression of the same set of beliefs rooted in Muldaur's 1960s music), and the fact that it's loaded with guests (in all fairness, these star-studded affairs seldom work). On Yes We Can!, her guests include Muldaur's old friends (Joan Baez, Bonnie Raitt, Phoebe Snow, Jane Fonda, and Holly Near) and influences (Odetta) and new pals (writers/spiritual gurus Anne Lamott and Marianne Williamson, and Indian spiritual teacher Amma). Does it read as if it is yet another exercise in self-referential backslapping? Yep. But don't believe everything you read on the back of a CD jacket. The positives are all musical. First off, Muldaur hasn't sounded this funky in years -- if ever! The set was co-produced by Muldaur and Joel Jaffe. The sound is, for the most part, dirty, raw, and angular, ranging from deep Southern blues to Cajun, gospel, rhythm & blues, and soul -- no matter where the songs come from originally. Her great influence, Memphis Minnie, would have been proud of Muldaur's use of the Southern inflection that sounds unaffected even though she was born in New York. Credit for the sonics falls equally with the production and arrangements (handled heroically by David Torkanowsky) and the musicianship (the Free Radicals and the Women's Voices for Peace Choir). The track selection is killer to boot: Edwin Starr's "War (What Is It Good For)," Allen Toussaint's title track, Bob Dylan's "License to Kill" and "Masters of War," Garth Brooks' beautiful "We Shall Be Free" (with deeply moving solo spots from her guests), Elbernita Terrell's (from Detroit's wonderful gospel group the Clark Sisters) "Pray for the USA," and the traditional "Down by the Riverside." Of the two Dylan tracks, "License to Kill" rivals the original. Muldaur understates the lyric, bringing out its nuances and the hidden power in the melody. Muldaur's reading of Timmy Thomas' "Why Can't We Live Together" drips with sincerity and is delivered with expert control -- she's a true craftswoman as a vocalist, always resisting the temptation to over-sing. That said, Muldaur may have lost her "good girl gone bad" seductiveness of the early '70s, but what she replaces it with is far more sultry because there isn't anything here but the desire to communicate the emotional intention of these songs in her husky, deeply soulful voice. Old hippies may be drawn to this set for its guests and track list, but any fan of bona fide, honestly performed, deeply emotional American music will be knocked out by it as well.

Product Details

Release Date: 07/22/2008
Label: Telarc
UPC: 0089408367229
catalogNumber: 83672
Rank: 143623

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Maria Muldaur   Primary Artist,Fiddle,Vocals
Joan Baez   Vocals,Guest Appearance
Holly Near   Vocals,Guest Appearance
Linda Tillery   Vocals
Bonnie Raitt   Vocals,Guest Appearance
Phoebe Snow   Vocals,Guest Appearance
David Torkanowsky   Keyboards
Jean Shinoda Bolen   Vocals,Guest Appearance
Marianne Williamson   Vocals,Guest Appearance
Tony Braunagel   Percussion,Drums
James "Hutch" Hutchinson   Bass Guitar
Joel Jaffe   Slide Guitar,Lap Steel Guitar
Jenni Muldaur   Vocals
Shane Theriot   Guitar,Rhythm Guitar,Slide Guitar
Jane Fonda   Vocals,Guest Appearance
Suzy Thompson   Fiddle
Kimberly Bass   Vocals
Anne Lamott   Vocals,Guest Appearance
Eric Thompson   Banjo
Women's Voices For Peace Choir   Track Performer

Technical Credits

Earl King   Composer
Garth Brooks   Composer
Linda Tillery   Vocal Arrangements
Bob Dylan   Composer
Marvin Gaye   Composer
David Torkanowsky   Arranger,Music Direction
Maria Muldaur   Composer,Producer,Liner Notes
Barrett Strong   Composer
Keta Bill   Vocal Arrangements
Jimmy Bralower   Engineer
Stephanie Davis   Composer
Joel Jaffe   Producer,Engineer
Paul Middleton   Engineer
Buddy Miller   Composer
Jenni Muldaur   Vocal Arrangements
Rowland Salley   Paintings
Allen Toussaint   Composer
Norman Whitfield   Composer
Anilda Carrasquillo   Art Direction
Mindy Giles   Liner Notes
Traditional   Composer
James Nyx   Composer
Geoff Countryman   Engineer

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