Connie Dover
The Border of Heaven
Taylor Park Music (

cd cover To trace a path through Connie Dover's life so far is to make a rather interesting set of lines. Raised in Missouri, she headed for Oxford, then to a Wyoming cattle ranch and then to the folk stages of the world. That 'Oxford to Wyoming' path is one of the more curious trajectories, I suppose. The Border of Heaven is Dover's fourth solo CD, and it comes with high expectations, which are well and truly met. The unifying concept here is to explore common territory between British Isles and American frontier music, which is appropriate seeing as she comes from a multi-cultural lineage. Subtitled "Celtic Music on the American Frontier," the CD illustrates how the American music scene was immeasurably enriched by the musical luggage which the emigrants carted over with them.

"Streets of Laredo"
One common link between the songs is that they are all strong stories, many of them tragic. Some tracks are clearly within this celtic-American frontier theme, such as "Sweet Betsy from Pike" and "The Streets of Laredo." The latter is a duet with cowboy singer Skip Gorman, where they link the British ballad "The Sailor Cut Down in His Prime" with its familiar American sibling. Another example is "An Spailpin Fanach" (sung in Gaelic), known to some in America as "The Girl I Left Behind Me." Other tracks known to celtic audiences include "Lord Franklin" and "The Water is Wide." Some are better known only on the American side, such as "My Dearest Dear." There are two original tracks as well, including the fine "I Am Going to the West."

The high point, as always, is Dover's clear and pure vocals. Her delivery is quiet, dignified and thoughtful. The dynamics on tracks such as "Wondrous Love" coax all of the meaning out of the lyric. The instrumentals are brilliant, although often understated This helps to keep the lyrics and melodies out in front. The stellar cast includes Johnny Cunningham, Russ Barenburg, Jerry Douglas, John Hartford, Zan McLeod, Jerry O'Sullivan and Phil Cunningham (who also produced the CD).

Dover's training in history shows through in the liner notes which contain useful information about the songs and their context. These are songs of wanderlust, the occasional rake, and the never-ending search for the edge of the frontier, all done in mighty fine style. - Ivan Emke

The Border of Heaven is available at

Editor's Note: If you are unfamiliar with cowboy singer Gorman, try A Cowboy's Wild Song To His Herd , and run out and find his old Deseret String Band recordings. They are worth scouring the used record bins for!

Audio ©2000 Taylor Park Music

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