Review by LarryG|
3 stars out of 4
Vermilion is a little gem. The Drifters didn't get an American
record deal for more than a year after they recorded Vermilion. The
record didn't get much attention when it was finally released.
Vermilion deserves more respect. It's a breezy, enjoyably
unpretentious adult record. The Continental Drifters are rock and folk
veterans. Peter Holsapple made great smart poppy rock records with the
dBs in the 80's. His wife Susan Cowsill got a taste of the big time
early as a member of the Cowsills, a family group which helped inspire
the Partridge Family. Vicki Peterson played guitar and sang with the
Bangles. Vermilion has a democratic spirit and it sounds like the
musicians had a good time making it, contributing music and harmonies
to each other's songs. Each singer/songwriter gets their chance in the
spotlight and has a distinctive sound but most of the songs share a
relaxed, positive sound.
The songs have an easy feel, often sounding like classic folk
songs. Susan Cowsill's slower songs are especially good. Cowsill and
Peterson smoothly harmonize and create a nice contemplative mood on
their The Rain Song. Cowsill sings about an old lover, "when it rains,
that's when I remember you." Cowsill's Spring Day in Ohio is a sad,
touching remembrance of youth. Drifters, Cowsill and Holsapple's
reflection on their musical career and life's journey from LA to
Louisiana, has a similar timeless feel. Cowsill sings about how their
life has drifted and the reassurance of knowing they'll always have
their friends and family to sing to. Holsapple's organ completes a
mood not unlike Crowded House's Don't Dream It's Over. I Want to Learn
to Waltz With You, written by Holsapple and sung by Cowsill is a very
sweet love song about leaving time for special moments even when the
daily routine takes all of a couple's time.
While Cowsill's ballads are the highlights of Vermilion, the other
Drifters add good material. Christopher Columbus Transcontinental
Highway, Peterson's road song, is a rocker with a good, cool groove.
Way Of The World has the perky pop energy and harmonies of a good
Bangles song. Peterson's Watermark is a pleasant, if slight country
pop song with nice mandolins. She sings guitarist Robert Mache's
touching Heart, Home with a simple yearning. Holsapple's contributions
are somewhat mixed. Don't Do What I Did is an O.K. throwaway rocker
about his romantic mistakes. It's pretty fun but Holsapple's singing
is fairly awful and the lyrics never get much beyond the title.
Darlin' Darlin' is pleasant but also pretty slight. Meet Me In The
Middle, a loose, chugging rocker, is a better Holsapple song. His best
contributions come at the end of Vermilion. The detail of Daddy Just
Wants It To Rain justifies its eight minute length. His bittersweet
history of a mom and dad's life feels like an evocative short story.
Holsapple and Peterson's Anything isn't a groundbreaking love song but
its warm mood encapsules the positive, really nice feeling of