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Published: 2001/06/19
by Stefan Low

The Day We Let Go- Patchouli

The Day We Let Go – Patchouli

Earthsign Records 0004

A good friend expressed to me his belief once that part of the whole
Grateful Dead experience – a big part of the beauty behind the music – was
the underlying do-it-yourself mentality, the inherent call within to take
the best of what you found and bring it home. In this way, the vibe could
propagate itself and live on, independent of any single source, each and
every one of us carrying it on in our own way.

The latest CD to cross my desk, "the Day We Let Go", the fourth CD release
from the Illinois-based acoustic duo Patchouli, is a perfect incarnation of
that perfect idea. This is music that obviously flows organically from these
people's lives, honest and unconcerned with the usual trappings of the music
biz. This is music that sounds instantly comfortable coming through my
speakers, like something a close friend recorded or an album I've enjoyed
for years. This is down-to-earth music made with genuine spirit, pure heart,
clean acoustic sounds and a living-room ambiance. The easy grooves and major
keys of these songs are exactly the kind of music we all like to make when
we let go and play what feels good.

I've gushed, so let me clarify some: I can't say for certain that these
folks have copped the same vibe from the same scene I have, but the liner
photos of tie-dyed lead guitarist Bruce Hecksel and braided earth-woman
singer/songwriter Julie Patchouli performing in front of tapestried
backdrops lead me to believe the apple falls not too far from the same tree.
If, in fact, simply saying the name Julie Patchouli brings a smile to your
face, you know what I mean already and I needn't say any more. These two
look like people you want to have over, maybe go hiking with and then do
some jamming.

Which is not to say they sound like the Dead. This is acoustic music all the
way, two guitars and two voices. This is like two talented people serenading
you around the campfire after the show, kicked back and feeling groovy. This
is music made from within the vibe, played as if for the sunrise we greet
with friends.

Also, my friends make great recordings, so I am not insinuating that their
CD sounds amateurish. Except for some briefly awkward homemade moments in
the piano-backed We’ll Be OK, Patchouli's CD breezes by in a smooth,
lightly harmonized bubble of sound. The sound and production are crystal
clear and uncluttered, highlighting the honesty of the performance overall.
Focus on the Lotus is so crisp and cool it threatens to be a single,
with just the right amount of reverb on Julie's voice. The hand drumming
throughout, provided in overdubs by Julie and Bruce themselves, is always
spot-on in the mix, lending just the right atmospheric accompaniment.

This is not music made with the mass market in mind. That means its good.
It's real. It's simple, honest, sounds good and doesn't try to be anything
its not. I recommend getting this one for sunny day and morning-after
listening — it's acoustic and easy on the ears. Since going to see
Patchouli play live might be the closest you can come to having them over
for dinner, I must recommend that as well.

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