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Kim Richey - Wreck Your Wheels

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 8 / 6 / 2010

Kim Richey - Wreck Your Wheels
Label: Lojinx
Format: CD


Fabulous sixth album of country pop from Ohio-based singer-songwriter and musician, Kim Richey

With every new album Kim Richey just gets better and better. Considering that the two-time Grammy-nominated Nashville songwriter has recently released her sixth album (not counting a pretty neat collection covering her earlier albums) that’s a surprising fact especially when Kim has never turned out an album that’s been anything less than interesting. A return to her more Americana roots is how ‘Wreck Your Wheels’ has been promoted. I guess we all have our own take on Americana but one of Kim’s strengths has always been her ability to write and record songs that really can’t be pinned down to one genre. With her appearances on albums by Ryan Adams, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin and her success writing songs for the likes of Trisha Yearwood it’s obvious that Kim’s work is rooted in the country tradition to some degree but there’s also a strong pop side to Kim’s work which is missing in a lot of alt-country or Americana. It’s this pop sensibility that sets Kim’s music apart from that of her contemporaries. While there is a certain laid-back almost jazzy vibe to a few of the songs here, notably ‘For A While’ and ‘Keys’, on ‘Wreck Your Wheels’ Kim shows once more that she has lost none of the talent she first displayed 15 years ago on her debut for framing her country based songs with catchy pop hooks and intelligent lyrics. The album has a lovely warm production provided by Neilson Hubbard who also contributes keyboards and bass throughout which draws you in immediately into Kim’s world. ‘Wreck Your Wheels’ is arguably Kim’s best album to date. By selecting a number of co-writers the album could have been a complete mess and lacked any sort of continuity but the songs flow from one to another with ease. That’s not to say that the songs are all in the same style; they are not. In fact Kim probably covers more ground over the course of this album than she has ever done in the past. But when you select co-writers like Beth Rowley, Will Kimbrough, Mark Olson and the ever wonderful and far too seldom heard Boo Hewerdine and Karl Broadie it proves at least two important things ; that you are highly respected by other musicians and that you are going to end up with songs that just ooze class. By choosing such well-established co-writers Kim makes sure that her songs always stay fresh and that there’s no need for her to repeat the same song twice over an album although we could forgive her if she tried to record two or three variations of songs as strong as the title song which opens ‘Wreck Your Wheels’ ( a co-write with Mando Saenz) and which at this moment in time is a contender for the best song Kim has ever recorded, or the following ‘Careful How You Go’ and ‘Leaving 49’ (Kimbrough and Rowley co-writes respectively ). In fact it’s getting extremely hard not to just put those opening three songs on endless repeat, Kim turns in some of her best vocal performances on those songs and they will rattle around in your head all day. This album was, apparently, recorded live in a small room which would account for the intimate, warm feeling that flows through the songs but the full sound that the musicians who back Kim provide almost betrays this fact. In shows just how talented Neilson Hubbard is not just as a recording artist (check out any of his solo albums to confirm this, the man is very underrated and deserves more attention) but as a producer. Without wishing to take any credit away from Kim one feels that this album might not have been the shining gem it is without the input of Hubbard. It’s debatable if Kim Richey is actually capable of making a merely average album but by choosing the right co-writers, a bunch of musicians who obviously understand her work and a producer who adds his own unique touch to the proceedings without ever drowning the artist’s own vision Kim has, with her sixth album, reached an all time high.

Track Listing:-
1 Wreck Your Wheels
2 Careful How You Go
3 Leaving 49
4 For a While
5 Keys
6 When the Circus Comes to Town
7 In the Years to Come
8 99 Floors
9 Once in Your Life
10 Back to You
11 Word to the Wise

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