The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #46624   Message #946944
Posted By: Fortunato
06-May-03 - 09:52 AM
Thread Name: Review: PHILLY FOLKSONG SOCIETY Reviews
Subject: Ray Naylor FULL CD Review: SLOW COOKER
Ray Naylor: "SLOW COOKER"

    Singer/songwriters are as varied as snowflakes and as alike as Romantic intentions. Their tenacity is as admirable as it is poignant. They gather at Open Mike sessions like impalas at a waterhole. They wait for hours for a ten-minute window of amplified opportunity. There isn't a venue obscure enough to escape their patronage. If mosques held Open Mike nights, they would sing facing east. They dream of a world that values effort as it does result. They are my friends and I love and respect their endeavors as clumsy as they, so often, are. They constitute a distinct and identifiable guild, as separate from professional songwriters as the Cleveland Cavaliers are from the NBA. They are epitomized in Ray Naylor.
    Ray Naylor might be the poster boy for the singer/songwriters of the Greater Philadelphia scene. There isn't a bar, a coffeehouse or a church basement that hasn't heard his songs. He has pioneered new venues, hosted and emceed, publicized, represented and championed the lot of his fellows. His own compositions are anthems of the craft he represents and, in becoming the spokesman for a movement, he achieves the designation, folksinger.
    If Cyril Tawney is the folksinger of the British Navy, if Gordon Bok is the folksinger of the Maine boatmen, if Woody Guthrie is the OK Okie, Ray Naylor is the true voice of the Open Stage singer/songwriters. He understands them as only a committed obsessive can. He is not just another name on a signup sheet. He writes about the writing and the singing and the waiting and the persevering in a world where poets are plentiful and profits are paltry. He writes with a sense of humor and humanity. He has, at last, released a CD that is as expository as it is entertaining.
    SLOW COOKER is not the raw Ray of a weekday evening. It is Ray with an array of many of the finest local instrumentalists who glitter like tinsel on a menorah. But it is the lyrics that matter. And Ray does not disappoint. The first cut, "Please Buy My CD" is a plea that every independent producer is dying to scream out loud is handled with Ray's humor and delicacy as is the hilarious "C, D, G" a tribute to the predictability of his arrangements.
    Professor Naylor, I salute you. Ray has a website, of course: www.raynaylor.com. Mr. Naylor's three-chord ritual is in keeping with the honored traditions of his calling Irving Berlin, a relatively successful songwriter back in the day, was so limited as a pianist; he could only play in the key of C. Still, he managed to crank out hits like "White Christmas", "Easter Parade" and "God Bless America". Tom Paxton love songs are beautiful but interchangeable, Jewel's gems are unlistenable and Bob Dylan's output is unfettered by melody or creative accompaniment.

Michael Miller for PFS
Reprinted from PFS "Tune Up," by permission