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I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org).  As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.  I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times.  I also wrote the liner notes for the four THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me?  My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored.  Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

DAYS IN ITALY by Annie Burns

My review of Days In Italy by Annie Burns appeared in the January 24, 2003 issue of Goldmine.

Days In Italy
Art For Art's Sake (901)

It's been a bit too long since we've heard a new record from contemporary folk artists The Burns Sisters (though the group reportedly has a completed album ready to go). In the interim, two of the sisters have gone ahead with solo albums.

Jeannie Burns' self-released Coming Up Close came out in 2001, and now Annie Burns follows suit with her own latest solo effort, Days In Italy. The album continues the earthy, folk-rooted sensibility that has characterized most of this family's work, both together and solo. It lacks the gorgeous harmonies of the group efforts but maintains the clear, pure feeling of inner, natural harmony that has endeared The Burns Sisters, individually and collectively, to fans for so long.

"The Owl," inspired by a children's book, provides an appropriately atmospheric intro to Days In Italy's tales of hope, heartbreak, loss, longing, and cathartic joy, facing both the mystery of the unknown and the possibility of redemption.

In the midst of this, "God Made Woman" seems a lightweight anomaly, one that might not seem out of place on some interchangeably anonymous country-pop diva's CD product. It's hardly a throwaway, however, as it works in context as the upbeat, smilin' counterpart to Burns' other, more somber tracks.

The stand-out track is "The King's Gonna Fall," a confident expression of self-determination (given added resonance in the post-9/11 world), built on a soulful bedrock oddly reminiscent of Bob Dylan's "Knockin' On Heaven's Door." This segues neatly into the title track, an imaginary travelogue of a European trip never made, of dreams and plans cut short by the death of a close friend; its sprightly nature belies its sorrow and makes it all the more powerful.

The only thing missing would be those above-mentioned harmonies. It's to Burns' credit that Days In Italy can stand on its own merits, and she's certainly proven--both here and on 1994's Into The Wild--that she can create compelling work outside the aegis of The Burns Sisters. Nonetheless, one hopes to hear Annie, Jeannie, and Marie Burns combine their voices again for a new record sometime soon.

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