Option 22 - Choose the Music CD

“Choose the Music” offers twelve divergent tracks of sonically robust, “post modern” folk music.

Option 22, which hails from Princeton, West Virginia, presents a package of spiritually charged, campfire anthems with the tracks of "Choose the Music."  The quartet claims to infuse folk music "with a revolutionary vibe" and that is definitely at play in the 12 tracks on the recording.  The band features vocalist Lori McKinney and a diverse range of supporting instrumentation.  Albert Perrone, Robert Blankenship, and Clayton Blankenship complete the group, offering their talents on guitar, doumbek, rhythm guitar, didgeridoo, bass and djembe, respectively.

"Many, Many" celebrates diversity and divergence of opinion, displaying vocalist Lori McKinney in intimate, charming fashion.  Vigorous percussion runs announce "Pulse of the Universe" and set the stage for McKinney's spoken word performance, evoking thoughts of beatniks and bohemian coffee houses. Guitar and banjo frolic in the early measures of "Come Away with Me."  McKinney's vocals feel warm and inviting here, while Albert Perrone's lead guitar adds tasty flourishes down the stretch.  "Raging River" seethes and churns, while "SoulSong" offers polished vocals, a darker sensibility and a layered, moody jam.  "O'er Space & Time" spotlights McKinney against strings, resulting in a lonely, haunted ballad.

The story of a lost wayfarer is recounted in "Road to Somewhere," and McKinney sings with hopeful optimism.  Robert Blankenship's didgeridoo adds a psychedelic flourish to "Spark" and the track proves to be remarkable.  My powered sub-woofer rumbles with approval throughout the drums of "Spark," and I'm sure my neighbor detests the rattling of my floorboards as much as I fancy them.  "Inspiration" paints a charming portrait, pairing McKinney's soulful vocals with reflective, yearning guitar.  A full bodied retro "swing" sound comes to light in "Crackers-n-Cheese," and this proves to be a spirited jaunt, excellent for the dance floor.  The album closes deliberately with "We Can Be Free," a song that proffers music, hope, love, and peace as keys to happiness and freedom.

The album presents a diverse package of gritty folk music.  When these strains are embellished with specialty instruments such as didgeridoo, doumbek, banjo and others, the resulting concoctions are hearty and boldly flavored.  Vocalist Lori McKinney shines in many places, as her voice has a plaintive honesty that is pleasing and inviting.  Tracks like "Pulse of the Universe," "Raging River," and "Spark" prove to be sonically adventurous, and I like those most in reflection.  The twelve tracks of "Choose the Music" infuse folk and Americana with both a rowdy spirit and a sense of inner reflection, resulting in an adventurous collection of songs. 

- J Evan Wade