Nothing stays the same...We are all touched by the curses and blessings of change. From a change of mind, to a change of heart, to a change of place and plane, the well-crafted songs on Wil Maring's second solo CD "The Turning of a Century" examine this broad concept from its many angles, holding it up to the light, and digging deep into the heart. A 1998 winner of Merlefest's "Chris Austin Songwriting Competition", Wil Maring continues stylistically with "The Turning of a Century" where she left off with her first well-received solo release, "An Ocean From Home", confidently teetering between the genres of bluegrass, country and folk, with dashes of old-time, Celtic, and even pop elements. The eleven originals and one bluegrass standard on this CD showcase her warm, intimate vocal style, the honest, heartfelt lyrics and penetrating melodies of her songs. These, along with the superbly supportive instrumental work, and immaculate production combine to create a pillowy acoustic world with no hard edges and no sharp corners- a comfortable world that the listener is hesitant to leave after the last song fades to silence.
"The Turning of a Century" unites some of Nashville's top acoustic players, including Stuart Duncan on fiddle and Rob Ickes on dobro, with past and present members of Wil's band Shady Mix. Wil and her musical partner, mandolinist and fiddler Mark Stoffel, founded Shady Mix back in 1989 in her southern Illinois hometown of Carbondale. In 1992 the couple relocated to Mark's homeland, Germany, found talented new "Shady Mixers" and have since been performing up to 120 concerts per year for audiences all over Europe, becoming one of Europe's top acoustic acts. In the autumn of this year, however, the winds of change will blow the couple back across the Atlantic to settle once again in Illinois. They will leave their European home behind, but not without leaving more than just a trace.
"If we don't change our direction we're likely to end up where we're headed." (Chinese Proverb)
"Wil possesses a unique ability to take personal experiences and craft them into beautiful works of musical art...The Turning Of A Century" is a commanding acoustic concept that crosses musical genres to underscore the limitless talents of Wil Maring."
"Bluegrass Unlimited" (February 2002)
"This may tie with O Brother as the most important acoustic album since journalists were asking each other how to spell "Allison" and "Krause." .... the lady sings every word like a relationship depends on it."
The Bridgeworks Newsletter (October 2001)
"Straddling the worlds of bluegrass, acoustic country and folk music, Wil Maring is an extremely appealing singer and songwriter... Her singing is airy and gorgeous, her songwriting is rooted in timeless traditions....."
"SingOut!"Magazine (Vol 45, Winter 2002)
Country Music and More, United Kingdom
God must be a bluegrass fan because he certainly gave Wil Maring all the creative talents to write and play astounding bluegrass music; the icing on the cake was adding a beautiful singing voice. Nothing was left to chance, he then placed her with a musical family in Illinois, America, so all those talents would be fully encouraged and supported. At the age of 10 she started to play the guitar and was soon playing and performing her own songs in local coffee houses and other various outlets.
I first heard her music in January 1998 when I reviewed the mainly self- penned 12-track album An Ocean From Home (Bear Family Records BCD16233). At the time, I wished it had been a boxed set with 100 plus tracks, a product that label is noted for. After hearing this latest release (long overdue), my opinion has not changed. I still demand to hear more of this lady's lovely music. The Turning Of A Century was recorded using studios in Nashville and Germany-a real hands-across-the-pond product. Not surprising, because Wil Maring's musical partner is Mark Stoffel. Together back in 1989 they formed the band Shady Mix in Carbondale, Illinois. They moved to Mark's homeland Germany in 1992 found some new Shady Mixers and played all over Europe. They are now back in the U.S.A.
When music is placed in categories something very special is often missed or overlooked because of a group name. This could be the case for The Turning Of A Century, yes, there is a strong bluegrass sound but instead of the raucous, nasal vocals Wil Maring delivers her own songs with a soft, gentle, and very feminine singing voice complimented by work from some outstanding instrumentalists.
Do give Wil Maring a chance by viewing this album as just less than one hour of beautiful music, I guarantee you will not regret it.
My album cuts: "Reminds Me Of Missouri", "A Dance To The St. Anne's Reel", "To The End Of The Trail", "One In The Great White Yonder". --Ian McQueen
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