Claire really knows how to pack a CD with easy-on-the-ear songs. In addition, some of the best stuff is the intros to these songs. Claire’s band of Jason Thomas on mandolin and fiddle, Jim Hurst on guitar and banjo, and Mark Schatz on bass and clawhammer banjo turn out some of the most clever musical intros heard around bluegrass.
Listen to the intros on “A Canary’s Song,” “Crazy Train,” “Great Day In The Morning,” “That’s What Makes You Strong,” “Whatcha Gonna Do,” “Woods Of Sipsey”—well, you get the idea. They put together luscious, clean, balanced and contrasting melodic structures to support the songs that follow.
“My Florida Sunshine”
A cool rhythmic bass from Mark Schatz starts off “Great Day in the Mornin’.” Claire always has a song you want to move to and this is one.
Claire and her long-time songwriting partner Irene Kelly wrote “Highway,” picking out the first verse after seeing “Ensinida” on a California road map. The meter of the name Ensinida flowed nicely into the first verse.
In “The Mockingbird’s Voice,” Claire writes in the liner notes, “The first cheatin’ song I’ve ever cut–-I love its earthiness. Sad set of circumstances–but a superb song nonetheless.”
Claire imagines her meeting with God in “Face to Face” written with Donna Ulisse.
A nice Caribbean feeling floats through “That’s What Makes You Strong” written by Jesse Winchester, who also adds his vocals to this song.
One of those nice intros, mentioned earlier, sends off the title cut of this CD, “Whatcha Gonna Do.”
Another neat Mark Schatz slap bass intro puts “Crazy Train” in motion. Claire must love those love train songs!
Garth Brooks and Buddy Mondlock get their tune “A Canary’s Song” on this CD relating a miner’s feeling for the songbird that keeps him alive in the mine.
“My Florida Sunshine” is a Bill Monroe song and long a favorite of Claire’s.
“Widow’s Weeds” written by Claire and Jennifer Kimball tells the sad tale of a woman who refuses to release herself from the memory of her dead husband.
“Barbed Wire Boys” is a rousing song by Susan Werner and is an anthem to farmers and others who made a living around barbed wire. Claire’s soloists get to work with each of their instruments on this track: fiddle, mandolin, banjo, and guitar. Emoted beautifully by Claire this is sure to be a favorite.
In “Woods of Sipsey,” an eerily foreboding melody flows through this story of a little town called Sipsey, Alabama, a place that exudes a warning to outsiders, but at the same time takes care of its own. Supported by Mark Schatz bass bowing, Jason Thomas’ fiddle follows Claire’s vocal, building a melody that echoes the supernatural feeling of this “forsaken place.” Claire wrote this song about the death of the woman she called Granny.