Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wreck Your Wheels, Kim Richey

BEST OF 2010

This entire review plays to the pure sentimental side of myself. Believe it or not, I have a soul. And, occasionally, said soul takes over my point of view. Or, maybe, Kim Richey really is a great, undiscovered talent. Maybe I am not just living off of a memory when I would listen to Richey on a regular basis. Maybe. Maybe not.

I first discovered Kim Richey in 1999 during the release of her most beautiful album, Glimmer. To this day I still listen to Glimmer on a fairly regular basis. During the late 90's I was obsessed with female singer-songwriters. I was a die hard Lilith Fair participant. If there was a female with a guitar, chances are I was listening. Of course, as one matures, the talent of a handful of these artists started to prove thin. I lost interest in most. But, a few remain.

During this period of female singer-songwriter I found myself pulled towards folk music. From folk music I fell into alt-country. From alt-country to a little bit of folk-country. This is where Kim Richey fell into place. I discovered Richey after following a long path.

I am not a stranger to country music. I grew up with my mother listening to Mary Chapin Carpenter on a regular basis. I have a soft spot for Rebe McEntire. And, the queen of alt-country, Lucinda Williams remains one of the best live performers (and recording artists).

Kim Richey is the softer version of Lucinda Williams. Ms. Williams is the older sibling, the drinker/drugged up/hard loving singer. Ms. Richey has played it a little more quiet. She knows all the same pain. Sings all the same notes. But, she delivers it with a little bit of hope left. She is positive in her sadness.

On Wreck Your Wheels, Richey has returned to the place of Glimmer. Richey has released two other albums (Rise and Chinese Boxes) between Glimmer and Wreck Your Wheels. Neither album was heavily played by me. But, they have some high spots.

Richey's strength is the sad song. This is most of what is delivered on Wreck Your Wheels. A world of loss, pain, and introspection. The title track starts the record. A very catchy, radio friendly song. I was immediately singing along. 'Careful How You Go' is the perfect follow-up to the opening track. Then, Richey hits the low point with 'Leaving 49.' Both 'Leaving 49' and 'Once In Your Life' are dreadful songs. Too poppy, too happy, and out of place along with the other tracks.

On 'Keys,' Richey is singing my song. A song about the way we hide ourselves away. Bury ourselves with keys behind closed doors. The second stand out track is 'In The Years to Come.' On this song Richey sings about a dream in which a relationship ends... not now, but eventually. She remains positive about the in between. But, how heartbreaking and heavily realistic. Beautiful.

Fans of Lucinda Williams and Suzanne Vega will be very much at home with this album. The second strongest album of Richey's career.


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