A GOOD parody requires equal parts of affection and irreverence for the original subject. Sue Trainor has plenty of both for all the folk music she books into the Folkal Point coffeehouse in Howard County and plays as a member of CornuCopia. On her first solo album, "In a Closeup," Trainor takes apart several of her favorite songs and puts them back together with twisted lyrics. For example, Trainor seems to genuinely admire "From a Distance," Julie Gold's anthem of universal brotherhood, for she treats the hymn-like melody with great respect. She changes the lyrics, though, and instead of waxing poetic about the beauty of the world "from a distance," she points out how flawed it all looks "in a closeup."
Trainor turns Dale Marxen's "Waltzing With Bears" into "Golfing With Hares," Elizabeth Cotton's "Freight Train" into "Sludge Train" and Bill Staines's pastoral romance "Roseville Fair" into a sequel about the suburban cul de sac married life that followed. Trainor delivers them all with perfect deadpan vocals in tasteful but wisely restrained arrangements. She also does a few serious songs, but her talent is clearly comic. The album's best song turns Tom Paxton's "The Marvelous Toy" into the more contemporary "The Murderous Toy," which was "loud and rough and cost too much, but they bought it just the same."
Arlington's Carey Creed, who has also just released her debut solo album, has a gorgeous soprano voice, bringing an art-song timbre and precision to a new-age/folk repertoire in much the same way that Judy Collins has. On "Plum Branch," her voice is given ornate chamber-folk settings by producer Bob Read of Trapezoid. Unfortunately, Creed never seems able to relax on the dozen numbers, and her overly serious, overly perfectionist approach lends a stiffness to the proceedings; even the satirical "Buyin' Something" is betrayed by its smugness. Nor does it help matters that her lyrics tend toward lines like "Mix your breath warm with mine, let all the worries drift by."
SUE TRAINOR -- "In a Closeup" (Trainor). To hear a Sound Bite from this album, call 202/334-9000 and press 8130.
CAREY CREED -- "Plum Branch" (Angel Toes). For a Sound Bite, press 8131.
Both appearing Saturday at the Open Door Coffeehouse in Fairlington United Methodist Church, 3900 King Street; call 703/671-8557. Carey Creed also appears Friday at the Old Brogue and Wednesday at Cate's.