Missed Music

Music you didn’t know you needed…until now.

Beautiful Western Folk from Eliza Gilkyson

Today I’m going to make a recommendation that is about as close as I get to Country music. Eliza Gilkyson has been in the music business a long time; her first release came out in 1979. Throughout her career, she has done most of her work in folk music. In fact, her father is famed songwriter and folk musician Terry Gilkyson.

A good thing comes from a bad year.

A good thing comes from a bad year.

However, in 2000, she released Hard Times in Babylon. The songs on this album are the result of a very hard year (which included the death of her father and the suicide of a dear friend – ugh). It’s not straight up Country, but there is enough slide guitar, western melodies, and just general Texas flavor that some of the songs feel like Country. Perhaps the darkness of the lyrics and the themes of disappointment and heartbreak make it feel closer as well.

I’ve just re-read what I’ve written and I feel I need to make something clear. I am definitely recommending this album. As so often happens, personal struggles can fuel the creative fires. One of the most inspiring things we can encounter is hope and strength in the face of adversity and that’s what this album ultimately provides. This is a woman bending under the weight of her troubles but it is clear she will not break.

I’m not usually a lyrics guy, as you probably know if you’re a regular reader. Here is a big exception. Pay close attention to what she has to say. The lyrics are heartfelt and evocative but are never ham fisted enough to make you cringe. I liked six songs on this release to give them a permanent home on my iPod:

  • Beauty Way – OK, this one really is straight up Country, but it has deep roots, not like the overproduced Pop-Country that I can’t stand. Trust me.
  • Coast – Here is a tired soul looking to recharge her batteries and do a little soul searching. The accordion is used beautifully here.
  • Engineer Bill – Sometimes, the source of strength we need is the love of others. This marching rocker has a great feel.
  • Persephone – Plodding and patient, but still cool as hell. The great melody is punctuated by the lyrics – line after line of cleverly turned phrases.
  • Twisted – “You’re so beautiful. You don’t give a damn. You’re everything I’ve wanted in a man. I’m fucked up. So twisted. You’re everything I’ve wanted in a man.” Goosebumps.
  • Flatline – She speaks the versus and sings a pretty chorus with acoustic and slide guitar that would be at home on a kd lang album.

A quick bonus recommendation: It sounds like she was still processing her father’s death when she wrote Easy Rider, which was released on 2002’s Lost and Found. It’s a river: flowing, deep, and beautiful.



May 5, 2009 - Posted by | Folk

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