The Burlington Free Press   2/22/99

Diane Zeigler is back - and the world of folk music is all the better for it.  Returning after a two-year, self-imposed exile to focus on her family life, Zeigler played before a near capacity audience at the Barre Opera House Saturday night.

Given the sharpness of her performance; it is hard to imagine that Zeigler did not even open her guitar case during the two-year period.

In addition to the now familiar songs from her 1995 release "Sting of the Honeybee", Zeigler wove in a handful of new compositions while also drawing on her earliest work released on cassette only and now out of print.

Openly touched by the outpouring of affection of her local fan base, she contrasted the generally serious tone of her music with humorous quips about life as a mom and the difficulty of writing love songs.

"Leap of Faith" opened the show, and the incisive lyrics seemed particularly appropriate given Zeigler's leave of absence: "You can revel in your finest moments/but you're still sitting on fences; they say you'll never fail if you have never moved."

"Holy Ground", one of her new songs, bore remarkable testimony to the strength represented by marital union. "I Know My Baby's Cry" drew nods of affirmation by both moms and dads in the crowd, showing that Zeigler's exceptional songwriting gift has emerged not only unscathed but enhanced by her new life experience.

Zeigler is transparent in sharing where her inspirations come from, whether the songs gets its start at the hairdresser's ("Widow's Peak") or it centers on a family member, such as the tune written for her dad on Father's Day or "Kathleen" for her younger sister.  "The Well," written for her two young children, spoke of her sometimes overwhelming feeling of a bottomless place where the line between joy and helplessness can be very fine.

The second set brought "With My Eyes Closed", "Legend of Enoch Arden", and "The Winter Sun", written just three weeks ago.  Preceeding the encore "Rock of Ages", Zeigler finished the set with "You Will Get Your Due" - and when it comes to her prospects for long term success, there can be little doubt about that.

While one can imagine her music being latched onto by a producer who would add more instrumentation and deliver a more pop molded product, Zeigler will have none of that.  "It's really important to let songs speak for themselves, not to adorn them too much," she said after the concert.