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MP3 Deborah Van Kleef - Work in Progress

Stories of ordinary people, some poignant, others wryly humorous, fill this 15-track collection of old-time, jug band, swing, country blues, and traditional and contemporary folk songs.

15 MP3 Songs in this album (53:23) !
Related styles: FOLK: Political Folk, FOLK: Traditional Folk

Great musical variety, heart and soul!
- Cathy Fink

After years of being a fan, friend and champion of folk musicians everywhere, Deborah Van Kleef has finally come out with a CD of her own — and it''s a gem. Her long apprenticeship to the likes of Woody Guthrie and Malvina Reynolds is evident in her own luminous compositions, where history, humor and passion combine to give us songs that tell real stories. Whether mining the rich lodes of traditional music, taking on bosses that ride the backs of their workers all the way to the bank, or singing a simple love song to her son, Deborah Van Kleef reminds us and reassures us that music — and we — are powerful.
- John McCutcheon

Deb has a nice, natural voice, and sings with feeling and conviction. The songs are first rate — about half of them are her own fine compositions, and deal with everything from health care to a local strike against McDonald''s to her personal experiences, all well crafted and well performed.
— Alice Gerrard

Singing her own songs as well as [those of] Woody Guthrie and Malvina Reynolds, Deborah Van Kleef joins the long tradition of folk artists who sing a good, and often tough, story to keep a bit of truth telling alive. Check out "Talking Health Care"!
Holly Near

What a splendid CD! The choice of songs is excellent, [the] band the same. I started out by making a list of favorites and found that it added up to nearly half the album.
- Peggy Seeger

Deborah Van Kleef sings with passion and skill on behalf of working people.
- Bob Franke

[Work in Progress] boasts a nice blend of heartbreak and wry humor, righteous anger and playful goofiness. It includes several of Van Kleef’s finely crafted original songs, as well as material by Woody Guthrie, Malvina Reynolds, A.P. Carter and others.

[Van Kleef] shows herself to be an agile wordsmith with a slicing wit on “Talking Health Care,: a talking blues in which she takes on the greed inherent in the American health-care system. Perhaps her biggest hit is “The Great Fast Food Strike,” an updating of the 19th century ballad “The Buffalo Skinners,” this time retelling the story of McDonald’s workers in Macedonia, Ohio and their 1998 strike for better treatment. The song caught the ear of Pete Seeger, who sang it at Carnegie Hall that same year.

She puts together an ambitious train trilogy in which she segues from Woody Guthrie’s “Little Black Train” to the late Cuyahoga County [Ohio] poet laureate Daniel Thompson’s inspirational poem “Train!” to James Keelaghan’s “Never Gonna Stop This Train.”

Ken Whiteley’s production is clean and colorful, with guitar, bass, fiddle, washboard and “guitjo,” among other sounds. The package is attractive, with some beautiful black-and-white photographs of industrial Cleveland [by documentary photographer Steve Cagan]. Fans of Malvina Reynolds, Peggy Seeger and Hazel Dickens will find much to enjoy here.

– Peggy Latkovich, Cleveland Free Times

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