Politically and Musically Correct

Give a Hootenanny! (ear X-tacy)
Heidi Howe

By Kory Wilcoxson

Most politically motivated music ends up sounding pretentious or preachy, as if the artist feels the need to beat the message into the listener. Heidi Howe prefers to take the softer approach, using her twangy charm as a vehicle for her earth-friendly activism.

Hootenanny is Howe's stump speech about the importance of taking care of Mother Earth, delivered with both genuine concern and a kid-friendly wink. Howe advertises the album for "ages 1-101," but Howe's playfulness on songs like "On My Bike" and "Yo Mama" skews the potential audience to the younger end (how many 101-year-olds ride bikes, anyway?).

The fun thing about Hootenanny is how sincere Howe is and how easy she makes it sound to do things like "Put the Earth First" and "Recycle Reuse Reduce." Sure, she's on a soapbox, but if you don't agree with it, at least it's entertaining (and made of recycled cardboard).

You don't have to buy into Howe's ecological philosophy to enjoy her music, but by the end of the album you'll be won over by her vivacity and spunk. How can you not smile at the sound of a banjo and a song about "Todd Tofu" ("Good for You")? Howe's idealism and can-do attitude will leave enough of an impression that you may just recycle this newspaper you're holding instead of throwing it away (er, assuming you're not reading this online, of course).