This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 3/04
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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Eliza Gilkyson has always mused on the internal, probing the human catacombs to various depths in her many releases. With her latest, she again goes inside and excavates, unearthing understanding,
insights and yes, a few scars, earned through ricocheting on life's
gameboard. Her discoveries bounce among the painful, the exuberant, the caustic
and the vulnerable.
Even in her songs about world events and figures, she burrows in on the troika of needs, desires and motivations.
In "Hiway 9," the opening cut, Gilkyson
castigates the invasion of Iraq. She goes from soup to nuts, singing
about oil, fulfilling scripture, Hell, neo-cons, spin, Colin Powell,
Clear Channel and the 9/11 Trade Center terrorism. Interestingly, it
is the words that snarl rather than the presentation, which is serene.
"Not Lonely" is a philosophical 'who I am' creed of personal independence put to music.
"Dark Side of Town" is the biography of
an individual with a taste for anything and everything, seeking
fulfillment via a life map that green lights any wish or hankering.
"Tender Mercies" and "Ballad of Yvonne
Johnson" are the two most compelling offerings. Contrasting female
suicide bombers and children playing in an unbeknownst poisoned pool of
factory waste with the comfortable safety of children in other parts of
the world, Gilkyson concludes the former with the chorus:
"...Tender mercies, tender mercies, come before despair
shine down all your tender mercies
it's every mother's prayer"
In the latter is the most visceral writing. Gilkyson and co-writer Yvonne Johnson detail Johnson's life from the sexual abuse endured as a child to a painful marriage and finally her actions that resulted in a death, producing a subsequent sentence of life imprisonment. Gilkyson, as Johnson, sings:
"...first memory of my brother Leon, I was only three
he threw me on the table, forced himself inside of me"
She informs her father of the violation, who then mercilessly repeats the act.
At song's conclusion, she asks for forgiveness with the hope that her story will assist others and become
part of a greater effort in ending cycles of violence.
"Wonderland" and "Separated" inhabit
different parts of the relationship spectrum. "Wonderland" embraces
acting on and enjoying simple physical attraction, period, while
"Separated" twines the yin of passionate love with the yang of painful
parting when the flame flickers towards extinguishment.
Gilkyson's inclusion of "Runnin Away,"
a clever story depicting the nature of survival, is a salute to her
late father, Terry Gilkyson, the song's author.
Backed solely by piano, Gilkyson's "Milk and Honey" is a poetic look at the tomfoolery of mankind's many preposterous strivings.
"Peace Call" is an obscure Woody
Guthrie composition and a fitting conclusion to the release, featuring
verses sung by Gilkyson, Patty Griffin, Iris Dement and Mary Chapin
This release will deservedly land on
many of best of 2004 lists. Eliza Gilkyson has crafted a compilation
where each selection is worthy and deserving of mention. How rare that
* The liner notes indicate this release
is dedicated to Al, to which this interpreter guesses as the late,
lamented Al Grierson, who drowned in a Texas flash flood in 2000.
Eliza, roses and thanks for remembering. especially if I'm correct.
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