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Dreamers Everywhere by Kathryn Mostow 89 (www.butterflysound.com)

The opening track of Kathryn Mostows CD Dreamers Everywhere paraphrases the familiar quote, attributed to Margaret Mead, that a small group of committed people can change the world. Mostows soft finger-style guitar and honeyed vocals are straight out of the Joni Mitchell songbook, circa 1969; but in contrast to Mitchells poetic melancholy, Mostow looks on the sunny side. I give thanks for all the good deeds unseen, she sings, and everyone who still dares to dream.

With that song, called I Give Thanks, the Seattle-based singer-songwriter sets the tone for the CD, which follows her similarly warmhearted debut, Gratitude. In Sun/Rain Mostow reassures us that regardless of the weather, we shine, were just fine. Hello World and other songs make glancing references to the country being at war, but instead of expressing sadness or anger, Mostow vows to raise up this hope for bluer skies. Even when she lays aside altruistic concerns for a playful blues, Mostow remains chaste: she confesses a weakness not for the bottle or bad men but . . . peanut butter (I even tried you twice, she quips, on organic long-grained ricea line that surely goes over well with the Seattle coffeehouse crowd).

In any case, Mostows gentle and soothing variety of contemporary folk banishes all hints of darkness. Her singing is consistently lovely, and several of her melodiesespecially I Give Thanks and Promise of Springlinger in memory. The CDs production is sure-handed too, with sweet vocal harmonies and supple drum and percussion grooves behind the acoustic stringed instruments. In the gospel-style All I, the CDs freshest-sounding track, Mostow and Alicia Healey (one of Mostows two coproducers) overdub voices into a Sweet Honey in the Rockstyle chorus, accompanied only by finger snaps and bass.

The CDs weaknesses lie in its lyricsMostow trades too often in platitudes (Freedom begins at home) and tired imagery (The sun will shine, the rain will fall / As this world keeps spinnin round us all). But these clichs may simply signal her relatively recent launch as a singer-songwriter; she spent a decade working in public health and only began to focus on guitar and song craft in the late 90s.

A particularly hopeful sign is Promise of Spring in which Mostow envisions the muse as a needle and thread and the green beneath the snow. If she can ground her songs in more visual, visceral language and stronger storytellinganother lesson from the Joni Mitchell songbookMostows words could outshine her good intentions.

Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers (www.wordsandmusic.info) is a contributor to NPRs All Things Considered and author of Rock Troubadours and The Complete Singer-Songwriter.





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