By Michael Henningsen
Though she once provided background vocals on recordings by Shawn Colvin and Nanci Griffith, New York-based singer-songwriter Lucy Kaplansky has long since established herself as a unique presence in the singer-songwriter world. The Red Thread (Red House) is a lush collection of five stunning originals written by Kaplansky and her husband, Richard Litvin and five covers (including James McMurtry's “Off and Running”) that is infused with her significant life experiences of the past three years—from the events of 9-11 which she basically witnessed first-hand to the recent adoption of her infant daughter—and of the threads that connect all of us. And, as always, Kaplansky illuminates the proceedings with hints of alt.country and “new folk” sensibility that sets her apart from most of her contemporaries. And she calls on an A-list of guests to assist in punctuating her songs, including Richard Shindell with whom she has toured and recorded as part of Cry, Cry, Cry, Jonatha Brooke (The Story) and Eliza Gilkyson.
In that sense, Kaplansky has managed a graceful, dignified move from backup singer to full-fledged musical force in her own right. Her songwriting continues to expand with the universe, but her insights become more focused. This artistic convergence allows Kaplansky's songs to wash gently across the shorelines of consciousness, while still leaving well-defined footprints in the sand.
The Red Thread is Kaplansky's darkest work, but it's also her most personal and fully fleshed. It seems that with each new record, Kaplansky advances to yet another jumping-off point, promising an even more colorful journey each time around.
Lucy Kaplansky sings in Outpost Productions' Fall Season Sunday, Sept. 26, at the Outpost Performance Space at 7:30 p.m. with special guest Dayna Kurtz. Tickets are $20 general, $15 Outpost members. Call 268-0044 for more information.
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