Redemption Road opens with “Virginia Morning,” a sweet and positive tune with good, pleasant vibes. It’s a song designed to put a smile on your face, and does so for me every time I listen to it. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “It’s good to be alive, Virginia morning/It’s good to feel your earth beneath my feet/Rise and shine, Virginia morning/You’ve got a sweet, sweet Virginia day to greet.”
“Virginia Morning” is followed by “Susie Most Of All,” one of my personal favorite tracks. It has a relaxed feel, and a delightful humor as well as love in the delivery. It opens with these lines: “Wish I had a nickel, wish I had a dime/Wish I had Susie, and Susie had time to play/Susie had time to play/The thing about Susie, Susie can play all day.” As much as I love Tom Paxton’s vocal delivery on this one, it’s probably the music that makes this track a highlight. It’s just totally delightful.
“Time To Spare” has the feel of a traditional Irish folk ballad, and so of course I bloody love it. It’s that great sweet ease of his vocals that makes this song so effective. “I’ve been thinking about you lately/I’ve been wondering where you are/It’s been years since we went rambling through the night/You were going to write your novel/I was going to be a star/We were young, and things were sure to work out right.” I love the fiddle.
“The Losing Part” is a wonderfully depressing song about aging. Somehow listening to this song makes it easier to accept, as the song is like a hand reaching to help you through. And it’s inevitable anyway, right? This one really affected me, nearly had me in tears the first time I heard it. “When it never came true/Never happened for you/It just slowly faded away/’Til it broke your heart/Some dreams die harder/Some are living yet/Sooner or later you get/To the losing part.” “Come On, Holy” is another of this album’s tracks that really moves me. It was co-written by Tom Paxton and Jon Vezner, and has a positive and friendly feel.
John Prine joins Tom on vocals for “Skeeters’ll Gitcha,” a fun and light-hearted little tune about mosquitoes (“skeeters’ll gitcha if your screens ain’t tight”) which also features some nice work on fiddle. My favorite lines are: “You were missing on the day they passed good sense around/If you had any sense, then you’d have to agree/If you had any sense, then you couldn’t love me/Give me a sweet little kiss.” Another fun track is the lively and affectionate “The Mayor Of MacDougal Street,” a good tune about Dave Van Ronk. “No one’s replaced him yet, and no one will.”
“Central Square” is another of my favorites. It’s such a beautiful song, and it’s one that grabbed me immediately. The first time I put this CD on, I was taking care of some things in my apartment, and this song made me stop what I was doing, and just sit down and listen. “I saw the road that led to home, but I took another way/I met the girl I came to love one night in Central Square.” Of course, this song speaks to me in part because I met the woman I love in Central Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts. But I don’t plan on making the mistake that the character of this song makes.
Janis Ian joins Tom on vocals on “Redemption Road,” the album’s title track, a song that Tom Paxton co-wrote with Geoff Bartley. Geoff wrote the music, and Tom wrote the lyrics of this touching song. “Only time and time alone/Treats each weary soul the same/When my sum of days is flown/Time alone will know my name.” The album then concludes with its sole cover, a rendition of the tradition song “The Parting Glass,” with the lyrics delivered a cappella followed by a brief instrumental section.
CD Track List
- Virginia Morning
- Susie Most Of All
- Time To Spare
- The Losing Part
- Skeeters’ll Gitcha
- Come On, Holy
- If The Poor Don’t Matter
- The Mayor Of Macdougal Street
- Central Square
- Buffalo Dreams
- The Battle Of The Sexes
- Redemption Road
- The Parting Glass
Redemption Road is scheduled to be released on March 10, 2015 on Pax Records.