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World Music CD Reviews North American

The Mammals

By Paul-Emile Comeau
Published March 16, 2007

Departure
Signature Sounds 1295

Anyone familiar with the Mammals probably knows about the group’s folk roots; one member is Pete Seeger’s grandson, another Jay Ungar’s daughter. With Departure, the group’s latest album, their folk/old-timey roots are still showing, but they’re also exploring pop sounds, even if banjos and fiddles remain upfront in the arrangements. A politically conscious streak still runs through many of the songs, but the sentiments never grow shrill or tedious. The originals are very strong, and several covers are equally effective. The group’s understated arrangement of Morphine’s “Do Not Go Quietly Unto Your Grave” is especially beautiful, but the album also includes compelling renditions of the country standard “A Satisfied Mind,” a poetic and topical Spanish language anthem, and Nirvana’s “Come As You Are.” Departure is an apt title for this album, signaling a slight change of direction for the band while upholding the standards already set by previous Mammals discs.