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Face Magazine 9/17/93 by Bennie Green

"Once you hear him you'll have a better idea about what's actually possible in the realm of the stringed instrument.

By now, you must have heard of Harvey Reid if you have any interest whatsoever in acoustic music played on any instrument from autoharp to bouzouki. Besides the music the thing that I like most about Reid is that he's living proof that the best of the best don't necessarily hail from Long Island or Orange County. And make no mistake, Reid is one of the very best players anywhere. It's even more evident on Circles, because this is almost entirely a solo effort, right down to the fact that Reid wrote 18 of the 19 songs herein. The harmonic beauty of Click Horning's "Oh Marie" opens Circles, with Reid in three-part voice with Moondi Klein (who also plays guitar) and Lynn Rothermich, who appears more frequently here than any other side person. David Surette adds guitar to both Crossing the Badlands' (as Reid plays mandolin) and 'Maplewood March' (with Reid on autoharp). Jay Smith adds bodhran to "Planxty Denny." The rest is Harvey.

Whether you like vocals or instrumentals will determine which parts of Circles suit you best. There are prime examples of each. If it's music alone that you desire, "Red in the Sky, Red on the Water" is a lovely hybrid which Reid himself thinks of as "a requiem, though technically it's a slow jig." "Star Island Jig" is much more identifiable as such and rendered, unbelievably, entirely on 12-string. "Five Cent Cigar" sounds like a barroom piano tune transposed to six-string, while 'The Unknown Soldier' is a lullaby taken to epic proportions. When he turns to the microphone Reid is likely to produce a story about practically any subject. 'Missing a Train, " for instance, is more a metaphor for the way some people approach love. ("Hey there goes a man who's loving like he's missing a train.*) 'Love Like Lightning' swings back and forth between the world of images and really "The Gray Man' is a poignant observation both about the actual aging process and the doubts that creep upon us as we realize exactly how much will always remain undone, no 'matter how long we live. His opus is the seven-minute-plus ' Once Upon a Time,' which bears many repetitions and careful attention to the lyric. We'll dispense with the Reader's Digest synopsis. Enjoy it for yourself. In fact, that's good advice for any Harvey Reid record, and Circles is no exception. I've oftn found myself wishing I'd hear Reid on "Prairie Home Companion" with Garrison Keillor or siding on some hotshot folkie's latest moneymaker. But it's not just because I'm a homer. Harvey Reid's simply a musician more people need to know exists. Call it culturally enriching if you wish, but once you hear hom you';ll have a better idea about what's actually possible in the realm of the stringed instrument."

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