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Published: 2002/01/23
by Chris Bertolet

Life Is Water – The Sim Redmond Band

I-Town Records 018

On Life Is Water, the Sim Redmond Band's third studio release in as
many years, the Ithaca quintet crafts bubbly, pastoral world beat,
reggae and folk with nary a sour note in the mix. In fact, the whole
affair is so polite and well scrubbed that it might leave serious jam
fans craving that sour note.

"Tangisa" and "Pedza" serve as instrumental bookends to the album, and
as showcases for Sim Redmond's spare, tasteful work on the mbira,
a Zimbabwean instrument similar to a vibraphone. The mbira makes a
soul-pleasing and ancient sound, and Redmond makes judicious use of
loops in these tracks to create a lush, welcoming landscape of tones.
It's a mature and organic way to frame the other songs.

Unfortunately, one could shuffle the remaining tracks at random without
much consequence. While these are serviceable and well-intentioned
tunes, they suffer from a certain sameness of tone (wistful), tempo
(medium), and instrumentation (safe) that leaves a discerning listener
hungry for more dynamic, more departure. The experience is less a sonic
journey than a satisfying nap on a comfy couch… which ain't always a
bad thing (Friends Of Cheese, take due note).

But the true discovery here is Uniit Carruyo, whose cashmere voice lends
weight to Redmond's earnest-if-a-hair-trite words ("we've come a long
way, we've seen hard times") and bathes his finer poetry ("with the
least resistance, you could give your skin away") in a warm and
affirming light. Jambands readers will find her sweet harmonies both
welcome and rare.

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