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Amber Cross - Savage on the Downhill

  by Owen Peters

published: 26 / 3 / 2019

Amber Cross - Savage on the Downhill
Label: Amber Cross
Format: CD


Lyrical and emotive second album from Maine-born but now Californian-based singer-songwriter Amber Cross

On first hearing 'Savage on the Downhill', Amber Cross' self-released album I imagine you would like a neat compact category: roots, country, blues, Americana. Good luck with that puzzle. The one thing which is abundantly clear is that Cross is a singer songwriter with a flare for description, expression and emotion, a talent. The album title refers to a brand of hunting rifle, and the phrase 'Savage on the Downhill' is how a tracker should hold a rifle so as to not bury the barrel into the dirt when side-hilling or climbing down an incline. No, I don't pretend to fully understand what I've just explained. But it’s worth having this little nugget of information when the opening track 'Pack of Lies' kicks in. You know the surroundings. The high deserts and forests outside Austin, Texas, and a country girl at work. Cross has a rasp, twang and edge to her voice, evoking the feel of dust on your boots and dirt under the fingernails. She delivers her regret for relationship errors, wrong decisions taken and a “wish I could mend your breaking heart” with painful eloquence. Cross was raised in rural Maine, her lyrics crafted as someone who seems to know the countryside well. But as with 'Echoes' she can take you inside a home, and more importantly inside a relationship full of doubt. A husband and wife who have seen eighteen years pass rearing their family. Now the children have gone, leaving them alone. They begin to question the past, the future, the here and now. The question is posed: “Tell me why are we still together?” “Lying next to you I’ve never felt so alone.” That is a killer line, plunging the knife of regret into a love that was once new. The album has an easy simple feel, which is a sure sign it's been crafted with diligent attention and detail by producer Ray Bonneville,and Justin Douglas on mixing and mastering duties. Throughout there is a simple one, two, one, two percussion beat, predominantly by Rick Richards on drums, which keep those dusty boots tapping along. Cross has penned seven from the album's ten songs, two in conjunction with Bonneville. His solo composition 'Lone Freighter Wail' is a good choice to close the album. This is a well paced cross over with a softer lullaby style from Cross on vocals, supported by Bonneville on harp and electric guitar. Cross released her debut album 'You Can Come In' back in 2013, followed by a couple of singles in subsequent years. 'Savage on the Downhill' marks a maturity and confidence to her lyrics which is clear on a first play. At her most expressive she sounds like a young Natalie Merchant. It's also a nice touch her thoughtful lyrics have been made available at her website. 'Savage on the Downhill' has been released in conjunction with her debut tour across Ireland & UK throughout April and May. I look forward to seeing Cross play live. I’m sure personal stories and explanation of her songs will only increase her fan base. Who knows with time I maybe able to explain with confidence the phrase 'Savage on the Downhill'?

Track Listing:-
1 Pack of Lies
2 Eagle & Blue
3 Savage on the Downhill
4 Leaving Again
5 Echoes
6 Trinity Gold Mine
7 Tracey Joe
8 Storms of Scarcity
9 One Last Look
10 Lone Freighters Wail

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