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Tom Jans
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Review of Take Heart

Gary von Tersch
1971

This is a totally unheralded but prodigiously rewarding album that owes a lot of its "feel" to the musical logos of the late Richard Farina, yet also stands on its own. Mimi is one of the Baez sisters and, with her husband / troubadour Richard Farina, they turned the world of folk music on its ear in the Sixties with their two now-legendary Vanguard albums. Tom Jans, I know nothing about - but on the basis of his vocals, music and lyrics displayed on this album, he is the perfect foil in all respects for the clear, homing-salmon voice and "presence" of Mimi. Every tune on this disc is worthy entry - down to the duo's apples-falling guitar intertwinings on the instrusmental "After the Sugar Cane Harvest" and their sunlight-riddled reawakening of Buck Owens' "The Great White Horse. "

The other eight tunes, all composed by Mimi and Tom each deserve a paragraph all to themselves. A few of the highlight cuts include the melancholic "Charlotte," the apocryphal "Letter to Jesus," the Farina-ish "Madman" and the plaintive three-part ode to the memory of Janis Joplin, entitled "In the Quiet Morning." Both "Carolina" and "No Need To Be Lonely" (particularly the latter) were solely authored by Tom Jans and depict his folk-cured mastery as well—the soft winds that memory and loneliness are inured by, swirl and pyramid. "Kings and Queens" is one of my favorites of their written-together efforts - the at-ease mixture of the traditional ballad vein in the verses with the country blues-flavored chorus magic blend ingeniously.

An album of madness, ghosts, dawns, dreams and looking-back that fuses words and music together with a harmony, a sense of resonance, that can't be quarelled with. Definitely one of my top five choices for the "sleeper" album of the year.


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photo credit:
tom sheehan London 20th May 1977

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