What Turns You On?
Award-winning songwriters Janet Humphrey and Mary Hartman have performed contemporary folk music on guitar and banjo since 1994. The duo has been described as the harmonic equivalent of peanut butter and jelly; distinctly different and perfectly complementary. In 2004, Michelle Cameron showed up with her cello and nothing will ever be the same! Strong vocals and tight harmonies are the signature of their high energy performances. Playing primarily original material, Janet and Mary's writing styles are diverse; their lyrics are gloriously unique, often weirdly funny, and wrapped in silky harmony. Michelle is a versatile cellist, playing everything from classical lines to gypsy riffs to a unique 'slap cello' style. The trio is based in Richland, Washington, where Janet teaches fingerstyle guitar, Mary is a hydrogeologist, and Michelle is a nuclear chemist. CD Review by Andy Plymale in October 2004 Issue of the Entertainer: Local singer/songwriters Janet Humphrey and Mary Hartman have just self released their second CD, 'What Turns You On?' (HuHa Music). Recorded in Humphrey's home studio by her husband, Gary White, the CD contains some Humphrey and Hartman classics, some new songs, and a couple of covers. If you've never heard this folk oriented duo perform, then you will be pleasantly surprised by the quality of the vocal work on the CD. Janet and Mary have been singing together long enough to have developed a second nature harmonic sense in their vocals, and I have to admit that on the CDs second selection, 'My Name Joe,' by David Massengill, I had a deju vu moment, as Humphrey's vocals reminded me of 'Blue period' Joni Mitchell. For her part, Hartman takes the higher register vocals, and occasionally reminds this listener of Joan Baez. A highlight of the CD is the cello playing of new band member Michelle Cameron, who adds deep harmonic color to many of the tunes, as well as rhythmic footing. Also featured on the CD are percussionist Bill Burke (manager of the local Ted Brown Music Store) and local hot-shot guitarist, mandolinist, and fiddler Joe Smart. Humphrey and Hartman particularly hit their stride on a Dolly Parton cover, 'Jolene,' which boasts an original arrangement that offers a nice groove after some initial a capella vocals. The CD also features some Humphrey songs that were new to me and were impressive enough to make one think that they were also covers, particularly 'The Path,' based on a poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, where Hartman adds some delicate banjo playing. My 'backseat producer's' wish is that the soloists, particularly Smart, had been given more room to stretch.