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Leonard Cohen's Victory

?... I wish I was back in high school aga-iiinn... I know so much more than I did then...? So The Ahs end Who Said to Me on their new album, Leonard Cohen's Victory, turning virtual clich? into virtual epiphany. Lyrics like that should turn a song to stone, but when Tony Rogers breaks ?again? into two notes, he weaves a spell.

Welcome to Ahs. On the left, you have Amy Grace McIntire, with banjo and a voice which flows like a river at sundown, sometimes floating and melodic like Sally Ellyson () and Jeanette Beswick (), sometimes more dramatic like Kate Bush, but with frailty. On the right, wielding cello with emotion and attitude, is Anthony Lee Rogers, voice at the ready.

Anchored by the roots of banjo and cello, they draw from numerous sources, most notably classical and folk, but what they play is neither chamber music nor folk. Deep within them, they have latched onto something which, when let loose, is captivating and yet hard to define. Part Jane Austen, part Amadeus and part Steeleye Span, The Ahs have a strange sense of music, banjo and cello feeding off of when not dancing around one another. And this isn't bluegrass banjo we're talking about here. This is Amy Grace McIntire banjo. There is a world of difference.

As for the songs themselves, Leonard Cohen's Victory, the title track, carries a dramatic punch with its banjo/plucked cello folk theme leading into downright elegant Kate Bush-like chorus. The chugging rhythm of the cello on Water in the Wine is perfect offset for McInitire and Rogers' harmonies, and the dirgey and folky If Chips Could Fly gives McInitire a vocal workout which she handles admirably. Then there is The Wedding Song, ready made for the cinema, roots reaching all the way to Europe and beyond. Like I said. It's hard to define, but you can stick your earhorn up to the computer speakers and hear it on their . You won't regret it.

If you want to kick up your heels and dance, Leonard Cohen's Victory won't do it. If you want to lay back and listen to beautiful music, this may well be your disc. You might learn something, too. Like rhododendrons only grow on the north bank. I have no idea if it is true or not, but when McIntire sings it, I want to believe it is. And like Rogers, I wish I was back in high school again. You know, Ahs is a good place. Wizard or not, I like it. A lot.

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

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