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Erin Rae & The MeanwhilesErin Rae & The Meanwhiles
Album: Soon Enough
Label: Clubhouse
Tracks: 13
Website: http://www.erinraemusic.com

Well what a start to summer! This debut album from Nashvillian Erin Rae, with her band The Meanwhiles, dropped deftly through the letterbox and is so full of cooling sun-drenched vibes that I swear it floated lazily to the floor before nestling right side up on the doormat!

British label, Clubhouse Records, have again proved themselves purveyors of the choicest artists the Americana genre has to offer, and this beautiful album sits snugly alongside their other releases by Cale Tyson, The Rosellys, The Dreaming Spires and Don Gallardo, in great company. If it's on Clubhouse then it's going to be quality, simple as that.

And "Soon Enough" is a resounding emphasis of that statement. This is just pure (afternoon) delight from start to finish, from the opening sunshine acoustic strum and serendipitous vocal of "Light Pt. 1" to the indolent, yet somehow ethereally kaleidoscopic structure of "Light Pt. 2". Here Erin Rae has taken her ingrained influences (her mum and dad were both part time musicians, playing their own brand of American roots music at churches, country fairs and coffee shops in West Tennessee) and moulded them into an altogether different entity - music that has it's own space, it's own identity, forging ahead slowly but somehow seemingly acknowledging respectfully those that have gone before.

Cleverly, the album (despite it's inherent warmth and richness of sound) and Rae herself deal with all sorts of issues ranging from mental illness to life challenges, and it's a trick that she and her band pull off with consummate ease. And that is of course because the songs are the very essence of what she is all about and in that respect she is clearly creating her own recognisable selfhood and that manifests itself uniquely as "Soon Enough".

The album is just a complete aural joy. You want understated aching pedal steel? Yes that's here. check out "Clean Slate" where it weaves in and out of your consciousness. You want clear beautiful vocals? Yes that's here. Check out title track "Soon Enough" where Erin raises the bar. You want subtle lead guitar? Yes that's here. Check out "Spitshine" where sublime guitar drifts effortlessly throughout the mix. In fact, although this is an album which pivots around the central figure that is Erin Rae, it is the band as a figurative whole that sparkle and shine throughout on an incredibly strong set of songs.

The strength of the songs is, for me, highlighted by the incredible "Rose Colour". The song is built around a simple picked guitar motif (not untypical of Steve Earle circa "Halo Round The Moon" or "Ft. Worth Blues") but when Erin sings there's an aching and fragility to her voice that recalls none other than Emmylou, and that's no bad place to start. Add a low layer of cello and a heartbreak lyric and what you have is one of those spine tingling moments that come along occasionally to remind you what great music can do for the human spirit.

"Soon Enough" is a release to hold close at all times. It's an album that will lift you high when you're feeling low. It's an album that will make you grin widely for no apparent reason other than the stark beauty of a lyric and the way that it's sung. It's an album to treasure, that much is certain. And when the sun stops shining? Why, we'll pop "Soon Enough" back onto the turntable and it will remind us once again what makes us happy. Enjoy the sound of the Summer.

Ken Brown
www.squarerootspromotions.co.uk