Constant Companion (Jpn)


aec.imt11263060.2 9/24/13 New

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    Constant Companion (Jpn) RHINO

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Review Text Featuring her own sparse acoustic string work, Constant Companion (1969) stands as singer/songwriter Ruthann Friedman's (guitar/vocals) sole full-length outing, not to mention a testament to the artist's singular musical vision. Prior to this dozen-song endeavor, Friedman garnered notice as the author of the Association's Summer of Love chart-topper "Windy" -- which she is purported to have penned while a resident of David Crosby's guest house. One strong link between the two projects is a penchant for bold surreal lyrical imagery. For proof, look no further than the a capella opener, "Topsy Turvy Moon," which matter of factly proclaims, among other things, that she eats her "beefsteak with a spoon" and "wear overcoat in June" -- blaming her irrational behavior "...because we met beneath the topsy-turvy moon." Friedman's aural apparitions are comparatively intricate tales rooted in a disquieting earthiness that is offset by simple and beguiling melodies. "Piper's Call" infers an emotional -- if not physical -- bondage woven with unmistakable anguish, as expressed thusly: "My song is like a bullet that's shooting through my head." Conversely, the sweet folkie "Fairy Prince Rainbow Man" is laced with prospectively lysergic ambiguities that turn inward and malevolent. The fugal structure as well as the lyrics of "Too Late to Be Mourning" and "Morning Becomes You" reveal a further facet to Friedman's considerable craft as she exceeds the effectual intimacy of "People" without reverting to unnecessary nostalgia or faux introspection. Nor does she sugarcoat her feelings of isolation, as exemplified in the statement "Now that I know where I am/I find that I am by myself." In contrast, the ballad "Peaceable Kingdom" projects a decidedly winsome point of view fueled by tranquility. The catchy "No Time" has a searching, rambling nature that culminates with the anti-authoritarian assessment "Damn the chaos and down with fools/And don't bug me with all your rules." Friedman concludes the long-player with the exceptionally affective "Danny." The heart-tugging saga of an ailing child is truly lump-in-the-throat stuff, particularly "Time means nothing to his small, busy hands," suggesting the unwitting brevity of his life. After several decades out of print, the San Francisco-based Water Records released Constant Companion on CD in 2006. The original running order has been amended with the single "Look Up to the Sun" -- boasting an executive producer credit from Van Dyke Parks. The striking art that graces the LP (and subsequent miniaturized compact disc) jacket was inked by Peter Kaukonen, whose more prominent claim to fame is as a member of the short-lived Black Kangaroo and as brother to Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna co-founder Jorma Kaukonen. ~ Lindsay Planer

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