“Great Day in the Mornin’” opens with Mark Schatz's spry bass run that sets the tone for this appreciation of a beautiful spring morning in the south. Soon Jim Hurst chimes in on guitar as well as Jason Thomas with fiddle. The song celebrates the warmth and glory of each day to get up with the one you love. It has a bouncy tune with the band in harmony and instrumentals supporting the lively lyric. The song opens:
The next song, “Highway” by Irene Kelley and Claire Lynch, is a woman’s road song. It celebrates healing from a broken romance with hope and strength.
“The Mockingbird’s Voice” (Pal Alger & Kent Agee) is a song of false love, the mocking bird a perfect metaphor for the person who says what he thinks you want to hear.
“Face to Face” (Donna Ulisse & Claire Lynch) is an upbeat gospel song that suggests that the moment of meeting ones maker will be a time of instant recognition. The light and bouncy sounds from mandolin and bass accentuate the essentially optimistic tone of this small, but delightful, song. The delicate counterpoint between mandolin and Jim Hurst’s guitar complements both the lyric and Lynch’s voice.
“That’s What Makes You Strong” is a song by singer/songwriter Jesse Winchester, who makes a guest appearance on this cut. This is unusual, because he’s the only performer on the disk who’s not a member of Claire’s regular touring band. His light tenor voice and solid harmony make a pleasant, but not essential, contribution to this song. Jim Hurst on electric guitar also creates a novel sound for this record. The “That” of the song seems to be love growing out of self-knowledge rather than out of need and disappointed loss of trust. Thus love and trust create strength – an empowering concept embedded in a comforting song.
In “Whatcha Gonna Do?” the album's title song, (Russ Paul & Rich Wayland) asks:
“Crazy Train” opens with a powerful bass kickoff and solo from Mark Schatz.
Garth Brooks and Buddy Mondlock contributed “Canary’s Song” to this album. As usual, the canary stands as a metaphor for the danger of life in the coal mines.
My Florida Sunshine” is a Bill Monroe song with a pleasant rolling beat and a sense of love lost but the warmth of Florida keeping the memories (and feelings) alive. It reminisces for the warmth and beauty of Florida where the singer's love has remained while she has gone on to other things, but not given up on her love who waits for her. In her memory "He's dear and sweet as honey, and will be waiting for me." (Thanks, Claire, for the clarification. Now the song works much better for me.)
“Widow’s Weeds” by Jennifer Kimball and Claire Lynch opens with a very old-timey sound and then erupts into a straight ahead bluegrass song of love lasting beyond the grave. Ivy Simpson’s husband Jesse died three years ago and Ivy still wears her black “widow’s weeds” in his memory. The instrumental, with clawhammer banjo, thumping bass, and dark fiddle contributes to Lynch's voice to create a mornful picture of futility. Because Ivy is still young and pretty, it’s sad to see her “dying on the vine too soon.”
Song writer Susan Werner has set “Barbed Wire Boys” in the rural Midwest on a farm where “they never complain, no they never made noise” as they cared for the land and families in their strength and silence. The tune sees these Barbed Wire Boys slavery to the land as a triumph of the human spirit seeking to express its love through work and conviction.
And it’s clear to me just what they were worth.
They were just like Atlas holding up the sky,
You never heard him speak, you never heard him cry.