Review of Here and Now (Times Argus)

By Art Edelstein

Colchester based singer-songwriter Karen McFeeters has released her third CD, “Here and Now,” and it is a very successful album — with lovely singing and strong songwriting.

I was first introduced to McFeeters’ work on the song “My Only Son” written by Carol Abair. That song and its rendition were so strong that we gave it the best song Tammie Award in 2007.

On “Here and Now,” we have an 11-track program highlighting McFeeters’ fine vocals and a well-honed songwriting talent. I hear a bit of early Judy Collins in McFeeters’ voice, especially on the opening track, “Here and Now.” Here is a crystal clear voice with superb diction and a warm pleasantness to her delivery that never seems forced or stretched to stay on key. This is not surprising as her day job is as a medical speech and language pathologist specializing in voice therapy. Her delivery is so good on this album that I think she’d make a great singing coach for other performers wanting to get the most from their voice.

McFeeters has one of those voices we all wish we had. The tunefulness of her singing is thoroughly engaging. It is a voice you can listen to knowing there are no jarring edges or muddied vowels. Hers is a voice enjoyable simply for the quality of the tones, which are always pitch-perfect.

Of the 11 songs on this album, nine are McFeeters’ compositions. She’s also included Susannah Blachly’s “Hope Begins in the Dark” and Carol Abair’s “Chelsea.” The latter is a song that alludes to the two teens, James Parker and Robert Tulloch from that Orange County town, convicted of killing a Dartmouth College teaching couple several years ago. It’s the darkest song on the album.

For the most part McFeeters writes about issues of love, children and the future. I was particularly touched by “Stories,” an a cappella song from the perspective of a senior remembering past times.

McFeeters chose Colin McCaffrey as co-producer, a wise choice. McCaffrey’s tasteful handling of the material never clutters the recording and he is very mindful that every word is worth hearing. Thus, vocals are the central focus of each track and instrumentation is there to enhance not overwhelm the songs. With McFeeters handling keyboard on several tracks, McCaffrey adds guitars, bass, cello, fiddle, mandolin and backup vocals. Several tracks include Brendan Taylor’s drumming and there’s a bit of dobro and electric keyboard as well. He has McFeeters double vocals on several tracks as well to add depth and harmony to the singing. The result is an album of exceptional song and performance.

While McFeeters seems more of a recording artist than performer I would encourage her to take her songs on the road. She performs occasionally with Craig Anderson and John Gibbons and this trio should bring McFeeters’ music to a wider audience.