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Amy Lashley - Travels of a Homebody

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 23 / 4 / 2011

Amy Lashley - Travels of a Homebody
Label: Wanamaker Recording Company
Format: CD


Mesmerising collection of country/blues and folk on album from Oklahama-based singer-songwriter, Amy Lashley

After her appearance on partner Otis Gibb’s last album, ‘Joe Hill’s Ashes’ it was obvious that any solo album by Amy Lashley was going to be just that little bit more special than those by any of the other new female singer/songwriters that are competing for our time right now. Many of those new singer/songwriters deserve our time because for some reason there are very few, whose music comes this way, that fail to impress these days. But Amy Lashley still just about has the edge over most of them. Obviously a lot of Amy’s appeal is in her voice. It’s a warm, inviting sound that on songs like the opening track, ‘Kiss Indiana Goodbye’ makes you just want to lose yourself in the song and let Amy’s vocals wrap around you. It’s a song about moving on obviously and taking maybe that one last look over your shoulder. Thomm Jutz who engineered the album and who plays a host of instruments throughout matches the warmth in Amy’s vocals with subdued and simply gorgeous organ, which is captured perfectly in the production by Otis Gibbs. It’s a stunning opening song and worth the cost of the album alone. It’s what the repeat button was made for. “If good things really do come to those who wait, am I ever overdue,” sings Amy and not for the last time when listening to this album will your heart melt. The following song, ‘Who Am I Kidding?’, shows Amy’s country leanings and Shadd Cobb’s fiddle certainly enforces that, but while Amy once again turns in a remarkable vocal performance this time her lyrics steal the song. Explaining that it took her 19 years to find somebody who “could even tolerate me” there’s humour, pathos and optimism all in that one song and also, it sounds like, some pretty fine whistling too. Over the opening two songs we hear Amy tackle folk/pop and country but on the third song, ‘Lil’ Red Girl’, country/blues shows yet another side to Amy’s talents. In Amy’s words it’s a “little love/hate song dedicated to every woman’s most loathsome visitor” and it’s never failed to get a positive reaction from any female that I’ve played it to. It’s a subject that’s rarely covered in a song but Amy does it sensitively and the style she’s taken to present the song suits the lyrics perfectly. Another song that never fails to start a debate is ‘Emmett Till’. Dylan had already written a song about the sad demise of this then fourteen-year-old boy who was murdered in 1955. Amy articulates the story well and again has written a melody that compliments the lyrics perfectly. There’s a lot of interest in Till again now; Emmylou Harris also has a song on her new album about the same subject. Amy returns to her blues influences on ‘Homebody Blues’ renouncing the material world for the simpler things in life. Again Amy’s lyrics will have you thinking while not feeling that she’s preaching. That voice just draws you in; you’ll be mesmerized by whatever she sings. There are 12 original songs on ‘Travels of a Homebody’ and not one will fail to touch you; you’ll find plenty that you can relate to throughout the album, Amy’s melodies are strong and memorable and her vocals are simply superb. By using the same musicians that Otis Gibbs used on ‘Joe Hill’s Ashes’ Amy already had some kind of rapport with the band and it shows. While Amy’s voice is the star of the show, the production and playing of all those involved make this album such a joy to listen to. It would be unfair to try to compare Amy’s vocals with those of any other female vocalist, Amy has a pure, inviting vocal style that just demands your attention, it stands out just because she sounds so believable but memories came back while listening to ‘Travels of a Homebody’ of the first time I heard Lucinda William’s self-titled third album. After Lucinda’s first two country/blues albums on Folkways she embraced pop and folk music on that third album in songs like ‘I Just Want To See You So Bad’ and ‘Passionate Kisses’ without ever losing sight of her country/blues roots. Despite the fact that Lucinda has picked up more sales and fans since those days that third album still stands as her best. ‘Travels of a Homebody’ is in many ways a companion to the ‘Lucinda Williams’ album in that there’s not a dud song on there, their music has no boundaries and although vocally there is no similarity between the singers, both sing with passion, have attractive voices and write strong, appealing melodies. If Amy Lashley continues making albums as appealing as ‘Travels of a Homebody’ she will soon be as well known as Lucinda Williams. This album is whole-heartedly recommended.

Track Listing:-
1 Kiss Indiana Goodbye
2 Who Am I Kidding
3 Lil' Red Girl
4 Night With No Moon
5 Emmett Till
6 Old Man Don
7 Homebody Blues
8 Happy-O
9 Ode To Middle Age
10 Wrong Side Of Gallatin
11 Livin' On Beans And Cornbread
12 Older Brother

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