Moon Over 97th Street
Although this is her debut release, Ina May has opened shows for artists like Taj Mahal and Mose Allison, and performed in venues all over the US, in Europe, and in the UK. Along the way she's written and sung with Marc Ribot (Tom Waits, Elvis Costello), Wayne Kramer (MC5), and Oscar-nominated composer Mark Shaiman. Moon Over 97th Street is produced and co-written by Daniel A. Weiss, the associate conductor of the hit musical 'Rent' on Broadway. Moon combines the soulfulness of R&B with the catchy hooks of pop and the storytelling of the best folk. 'Just when I expected another boring New York City singer-songwriter with the same ethereal voice and the same soft-spoken songs about the same old thing, along came Ina May Wool. She has a bit of a growl to her voice, earnest and varied songs, and an almost country feel to her music. 'Down on Tenth Street' is a portrait song about a young woman who has thrown her life away on the streets of New York City. Wool puts an original spin on the concept of girl power in 'J'ai Gagne (I Won),' which follows a woman through a life of relationships and decisions. The jubilation gives way to melancholy in 'Janis,' an ode to Janis Joplin that really captures the tortured existence that ended in tragedy. 'Hotwired & Hungry' is an ode to young love in the city, a beautiful song about foolishness and looking back on teenage lust, on that one person you'll never forget. Wool switches gears for 'Don't Wanna Wait,' very contemporary pop, upbeat and happy. Wool sings her own background vocals, adding several layers of expression. Her voice turns gentle and fragile in 'Leopard,' accepting that two very different people can choose to lay aside differences and love each other: 'And I am I am I as I can be / And you are you straight through / And the sum of the parts / Can be difficult some of the time.' It is a beautiful song that begs for understanding. Wool has a slightly different perspective on relationships and why they continue in 'January Thaw' -- she sings about arguments and making up with a smile in her voice. The record closes with 'Tenth Street Farewell,' a jaunty instrumental interpretation of 'Down on Tenth Street' that brings to mind a sidewalk café in Paris. The upbeat musical ending to the record leaves the listener with an impression of positive energy -- even though many of the songs on Moon Over 97th Street deal with melancholy themes and tragedy. Moon Over 97th Street is a very strong folk-pop recording -- Wool's quirky observations and sweet voice should serve her well in the coming years.' [ by Rachel Jagt, in Rambles online magazine ] 'Wool writes excellent songs and sings with passion.' - David Johnson, The Boston Globe 'Wool sings so close to the emotional waterfall that she compels undivided attention. Whether her nervy alto will go over the edge becomes the stuff of high drama. Wool's dedication to the song, as manifest in her years working on her craft at Jack Hardy's weekly songwriting circles in Greenwich Village, coupled with Weiss' studio expertise and musical skills, has resulted in a debut of such focused intimacy that it will stun listeners well into the coming millennium.' Mitch Ritter, Dirty Linen Magazine 'I try very hard to provide balanced reviews, reviews which point out the positive but also suggest areas where improvement may be possible. For a couple of reasons, it may not be possible to write such a review of Ina May Wool's new release. For one thing, 'Moon Over 97th Street' is just too good. This is a very impressive debut album by an artist who is sure to stand the test of time....Wool's lyrics are tightly written and poetic, yet mostly they manage to maintain a colloquial, conversational feel that gives the sense of a story being told casually. These are lyrics that can easily stand on their own as poems.' Bob MacKenzie, Soundbytes 'A crystal-clear voice and worldly storytelling abilities. One of the most complete and enjoyable releases I've reviewed in a while, 'Moon' is well-crafted folk with strong pop sensibilities.' Lisa Fairbanks, Rhythm and News 'New York City based songwriter Ina May Wool is certainly one of Gotham's most exciting upstarts. Possessing a striking voice, incisive lyrics, and a wonderful gift for melody that seems to elude many of today's singer-songwriters, Ina May leaps ahead of the pack with her startling debut. MOON is rootsy folk-pop that retains a decidedly homespun feel, although Wool has her feet firmly planted in the present day.' - The Muse from Indie-Music.com, by Jennifer Layton JUNE, 2001 'Pay attention to what you say if you happen to be hanging out in New York and find yourself interacting with Ina May Wool. You could be in the grocery store asking her if she wants paper or plastic, and she'll probably write a song about it. And it will be lovely. If her next CD is called 'Songs About Sitting in the Waiting Area at H&R Block,' I'll buy it. She discovers the mystery and meaning in a loaf of bread and a jug of wine, small gestures, a layer of ice, and lying awake at night. Most of the songs from this acoustic performer are sad, but they never fall into hopelessness or misery. My favorite track is the wistful, quiet title track, a moonlight prayer for someone to love. Her voice floats sweetly, loneliness in the notes. But she's not so desperate that she has lost her spirit or humor. 'It wouldn't hurt if he had a little red sports car.... And please - a little personal dignity. Maybe he might know a few jokes.' What adds romance to this song is knowing that her prayer has been answered - her husband, Daniel A. Weiss, produced this CD. (He is the associate conductor of the hit Broadway musical 'Rent.') Her songs celebrate life through all the dark times. The instruments include the mandolin, accordion, harmonica and violin, which often give the songs a fairy tale feel. Combined with the sweet sultriness of Wool's voice, they become rays of sunlight breaking through the sad stories, illuminating the hope behind situations like the falling-apart marriage in 'J'ai Gagné' and the reflections of 'Down on Tenth Street.' ('Tenth Street' shakes the listener with the memory of a crying woman 'out on the street, getting into a taxi, tears running down through streaks of mascara.' In the present, she has washed up on shore in a bar on Tenth Street to reflect. This song perfectly captures the evening.) Such simple images and emotions are universal, and Wool is finding an audience all over the world. Besides clubs in her own NYC back yard, she's toured the U.K. and performed in festivals in Scotland. If you can't catch up with her, just get this CD and let it cast a spell. This one stayed with me for a long time.'