Artist Diane Zeigler
Album These Are The Roots
Reviewer Caroline Dale-Risk
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Although this album was released last
year, promotion was delayed by several months owing to Zeigler developing
repetitive motion injury at the base of her thumb. Fortunately following
surgery she has recovered from this injury, which rendered her unable to
play guitar, but it is not the first time she has taken a break from her
career as a singer-songwriter. Indeed, the injury may well have been caused
by a resumption of guitar playing after a three-year break to raise two
children. No sooner had her debut album Sting of the Honeybee been released
on the Rounder label, she discovered that she was pregnant with her first
child. To the dismay of Rounder, Zeigler decided that motherhood came first.
That was in 1995. Now, having picked up the musical reins once more, she
has taken more control into her own hands, both co-producing and self-financing
These Are The Roots. Zeigler has a lovely voice, with a slightly haunting
quality to it, not unlike Shawn Colvin. Like Colvin, she uses imagery in
her lyrics but it is less dark, and like her music, generally, simpler.
By-and-large this is acoustic folk music consisting of Zeigler and her
guitar, though complemented with sympathetic playing by, amongst others,
husband Geoff Sather on bass, Josh Colow on electic guitars, and T-Bone
Wolk on organ and accordion. Drawing on her life and relationships, both
ups and downs, for inspiration, thoughts on motherhood are offered in I
Know My Baby's Cry, while marriage is the subject of Holy Ground. While
Zeigler sounds at peace with herself - she is a long way from the angst-ridden
confessional school of song-writing - she eschews easy sentimentality.
There are bad times as well as good, and there are some wise words on dealing
with the former in This Too Shall Pass and Forgiveness. Another theme is
knowing where you belong, explored in the title track. This moves along
nicely, with an infectious upbeat chorus: 'These are the roots that keep
my feet on the ground/These are the ones that I need to slow me down/This
is the place that I call the holy land/It's calling me back with the words
and the ways I understand'. Zeigler is an intelligent, sensitive writer.
One of the most interesting songs is In Defence of Eve. Not a feminist
rant, but a subtle suggestion that Eve was 'just a wife who wanted more'.
Another unusual song is The Legend of Enoch Arden, a clever reworking of
a poem by Tennyson. Perhaps the most moving song, however, is You Were
Welcome Here. Written from the point of view of a mother who gave up a
child for adoption, it is filled with the pain of knowing that the now
fully grown child will believe he was unwanted. These are well-crafted
songs, set to gentle, melodic music and well served by clear sound quality
and sensitive, balanced production. Thoughtful and personal without being
navel gazing, this is a fine album.