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Sung by David Essig. New Woodshed Records, 1983. Phonodisc. 1-12", 33 l/3rpm, stereo. $9.98. Distributed by Boot Records, 1343 Matheson Blvd. E., Mississauga, Ont., L4W 1R1.

Grades 7 and up
Reviewed by Frank Loreto

Volume 13 Number 2
1985 March

Usually David Essig offers a wide variety of musical styles. Comfortable in rock and roll, country, bluegrass, or folk, his songs have often probed stories of love, frustration, changing times, and lost friends with great sensitivity.

While Living in the Good Years continues in the Essig tradition of quality, with an increased maturity. Each of the songs deals, in some way, with the change from youthful dreams to the adult reality. In most, the past was somehow better.

Essig's songs speak of personal experiences, as in "Blues for Guilietta," a romping travelogue about his visit to Italy. In the Ronnie Hawkins's style, he captures the vitality of his time overseas. On a more serious note, "Two Weeks Home" shows that time and priorities are changing. The loss of friends is reflected in "The Old Blue Van," a song for the late Stan Rogers, in a way that is not maudlin. The destruction of childhood dreams by those in power is a theme of "Captain Video." Essig shows how the hours of excitement provided by the old television program have been recycled at a value far less than the original was worth. This alteration of the past also appears in "Another Elevator Turning Green," an angry song about the growing American presence on the Canadian prairies. The grain elevators, once owned in Canada, are being bought by the American Cargill Company, which uses a distinctive green to mark its holdings.

Musically, While Living in the Good Years is a treat to the ears. Three of the songs, "You Keep It Warm Inside," "The Singing Waterfall," and "My Darlin' Corey Is Gone" are fine traditional-style country and bluegrass tunes. Essig's superb guitar work throughout the album elevates this work above the ordinary. Despite the sombre tones brought out by the lyrics, the songs are alive and result in a very enjoyable album.

While Living in the Good Years is recommended for any library with a serious folk or Canadian music section, especially where David Essig has a following.

Frank Loreto, Rainy River H.S., Rainy River, Ont.
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