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CD Review: Holland, Thompson, & Tooch 

Before getting to all the good things to be heard on this frequently stunning debut, there are two things that tweak me: First, I wish the respected Hudson Valley trio would let its collective hair down and stray beyond the quiet folk/country margin. You can sense they want to swing but often hold themselves in check. Tweak number two: As accomplished as all three are at the craft of songwriting, you can sometimes feel the craft (i.e., the construction), and not the song (the feeling), at play.
With that said, singer-guitarist LuAnne Thompson’s countrified “Cabin on the Hill” is a resonant, meditative plea and the best song on this collection. I doubt if anyone is better at making the kind of simple yet eloquent life statements that multi-instrumentalist John Martucci does with the folk-jazzy “Gratitude” and the sing-along, feel-good closer “Keep on Chippin’.” Keyboardist-flutist Melissa Holland shakes the folk foundations with the spirited, finger-snapping, three-part a capella “Troubadour” and the playfully martial “Barbie 2000” (“Bulimic Barbie, press her tummy ‘Urp’ regurgitation”).
Though a few more instrumental dashes here and there wouldn’t have hurt, Vito Petroccitto’s clear, sparse production serves all 13 selections well, allowing each member a spotlight and the trio as a unit a chance to shine.

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