Friends For A Lifetime

Claire Lynch

Rounder Records, 1993

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


There have not been many "inspirational" albums (or albums with religious overtones) that have caught my fancy in my 11 years of reviewing music. Claire Lynch might be the exception to this pattern.

Her latest release, Friends For A Lifetime, is billed as a bluegrass album, something I would immediately dispute. When I think of bluegrass, I think of people like David Grisman going completely ballistic on the mandolin. If Lynch is a proponent of any style, I'd call it country Gospel music. Whatever you call it, it does work, even if it's a bit preachy at times.

Lynch's vocals are the catalyst for most of the music contained on this disc. Her vocal style is incredibly beautiful, even a tad soulful at times. But her voice sounds like it would fit in with almost any musical style, not just country.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

If you're not in the mood for a musical sermon, then you're not going to like Friends For A Lifetime. However, if you're listening just for the music (or you can put the religious overtones to the side), you're going to be in for a treat. Songs like "There Is A Fountain," "Lead Me On," "Your Presence Is My Favorite Gift" and "Between The Two Of Them" simply will blow the listener away. Especially moving is "Between The Two Of Them," a loving tribute to one's deceased parents and their fond memories of them and the love they shared for each other. This song tugs at the heartstrings, and its message hits when you least expect it to.

There are a couple of weak moments on Friends For A Lifetime, such as "My Name Is Judas" and the title track, songs that, for one reason or another, just don't click the way one would think they should. "My Name Is Judas" is an admirable effort to put the disgraced apostle into a slightly better light, portraying him as someone who had a moment of weakness followed by an intense shame for his actions. However, this time the music and lyrics can't support the concept.

However, seeing that Lynch relied more often than not on material from other songwriters, she really can't be blamed for the weak moments on the album. If anything, I'd like to see her flex her songwriting muscles a little more on the next album.

And, sure, the preaching does get to be a little much by the end of the album, with references to the "rapture". (I know some "born-again Christians" that would probably consider this disc to be a masterpiece.) In fact, the categorization of this disc as "bluegrass" and not "gospel" might cause some eyes to open widely when they first drop this into the old CD player.

Friends For A Lifetime is the kind of album that, if you're not paying close attention, will be somewhat of a religious experience for you - if only to open your eyes to an incredibly talented singer/songwriter whose voice is growing louder by the day.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Rounder Records, and is used for informational purposes only.