A swift follow-up to last year's well-received Home Sweet Hotel, recorded in the short space between her mother's death and her wedding and written largely in response to the news from back home while touring the previous album in the UK it gathers together themes of love, death, grief, fate and politics.
It opens with 'Little Cloud Over Little Rock', a mid-paced, bluesy alt-country storysong smalltown Friday night snapshot with the narrator "at the bar waiting on some to go" before heading out to Texas while the bartender with her "dyed black hair and ear ring feathers" is "sipping on the sly to keep her cool" and some guy's humming along to George Jones on the jukebox as he waits for his friends to come and drink away their unemployment money. As the title suggests, there's a storm gathering, weather imagery spilling over into the swampy blues slow handclap rhythm title track as she sings how "far away back home I can I feel a war stirring" as "the poor get poor and the rich get richer."
Co-penned with Anne McCue and Rich McCully, 'Sinking Sun' is a more musically vibrant number that chimes with a note of hope that, even when you've "no coat no hat no guide no map gone too far no turning back", you're not alone in your despair but, rather than give up, you should "wait until tomorrow comes", feel the "warm wind on your skin" and breathe in.
It's back to swampy blues for the sensual groove and lyrics of 'Sugar Baby', a dark song about dangerous desires, addiction and temptation ("tempted by the poison berries hanging off your tree woke up in chains and the warden said to me how much do you love your pretty sugar baby now?") that features vocals by Julie Christenden.
This is immediately offset by 'Supernova', a Tony Kerr co-write, a summer-infused gradually building country soul love song ("sun shine coming thru my window, I found something that I wanted… You…" ) with the blinding afterglow of a night of passion sung in a languid, cracked and dusty voice.
Ben Glover is rapidly becoming the go-to songwriting collaborator in Nashville and his contribution here, 'Yuma', (an epitaph for the titular character) is one of the album's stand out tracks, a Springsteen-tinted folksy ballad with a tumbling chords chorus about taking one chance too many.
The remaining cuts are all co-writes, Lorne Entress and Lori McKenna joining forces on the Pettyesque folk-rock rhythmically skittering 'Said It Like A King', a politically-veined number about bullies, be they on the school bus, in church or in a seat of power. John Hadley's at hand for another political track, the rockier drive of 'True Or Not' with its Spanish guitar solo and lines about how "there's talk in the streets that the deal is changing" and a rallying call for "a peaceful battle cry" through the power of music.
It ends with a collaboration with UK duo Worry Dolls, Eamon McLoughin featured on violin for 'Let The Wind Blow', a song ostensibly about recovering from a bad relationship choice with a closing note of hope about the answer blowing in the wind of change in that, after a winter of discontent, spring will surely follow. The rain cleanses, soak yourself in it.
|Blitzen Trapper: Wild And Reckless||Amelia Coburn: Amelia Coburn & Friends Live|
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