Summer 2004 . Vol. 48 #2 Sing Out! page 127
LEELA and ELLIE GRACE
Leela and EIIie Grace
Leela and Ellie Grace soar off this disc like a breath of fresh air in the smoky atmosphere of singer-songwriters. This lively recording, exquisitely produced by Pete Sutherland, is truly a joy to behold. Leela and Ellie, daughters and former bandmates of Paul and Win Grace of Missouri, begin with the harmonies you’d expect from sisters who have been singing together their entire lives. Between them they play guitar, fiddle, banjo, and mandolin as well as percussive dancing. Sutherland seasons the recording with a half dozen other players, allowing the Graces to create an uniquely perfect setting for each song. Some are simple and/ or completely acoustic, others are more arranged and contemporary, but overall this CD easily fits the acoustic folk genre.
The terrific sound created by the Graces would mean little were it not for their stellar taste in music, which ranges far and wide, but returns again and again to the themes of love and harmony. Of the 13 songs on the CD, Leela contributed [four] and Ellie one. The remainder are a mixture of traditional and some of today’s best folk songwriters. Instrumentals, including those with dance, breakup the intensity of the lyrics. Hearing Carla Sciaky’s ecological plea “Song That Bird Sings” is a real pleasure. Tim O’Brien and Gary Nicholson’s “More Love” is a gem, and Robin and Linda Williams’ “Streets of Gold” becomes a real hymn from the Graces’ hearts and voices. The most arresting song on the CD is “In My Name (You Shall Love),” Leela’s timely peace anthem that commands replacing aggression with love, beseeching humans not to kill in God’s name. The sisters powerfully perform it and intelligently follow it a cappella with the traditional “Down in the Valley to Pray.” If you’re hesitant to take a chance on new artists, rest assured this CD will leave you in a state of grace. — RWarr