album reviews

Lucy Kaplansky
Over the Hills
Red House Records (2007)

Lucy Kaplansky has seen her share of sorrowful souls, both in the 1980s New York City folk scene and in her second career as a psychologist. Her music, though, focuses more on her own experiences, as her somber tone and reflective pace expose a soul that aches with sadness.

On her latest CD, "Over the Hills," the warmth of Kaplansky's voice paired with her pensive songs makes her music sound like wistful lullabies: The swaying "Manhattan Moon" captures a maternal perspective, while the sparse "Today's the Day" reflects on the passing of her father, pianist/mathematician Irving Kaplansky. The album's title track is particularly stunning. Its touching meditation on the passing of time is enhanced by Eliza Gilkyson's striking harmonies.

With songs as strong as Kaplansky's, it's a shame that half of "Hills" is devoted to covers. She infuses them with the same melancholy tone that pervades the rest of "Hills" but often without the poignancy of her own material. Although Loudon Wainwright III's "Swimming Song" gains an especially nostalgic tone under her mournful voice, her treatment of "Ring of Fire" seems to ramble without the peppy horns of Johnny Cash's version.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 4 May 2007, Page WE14
.: Over the Hills on