Edgeland by Kim RicheyRelease date: March 30, 2018
Label: Yep Roc
Let’s make this as simple as possible – Kim Richey is musician’s musician. And even more so, musician’s songwriter. She’s a musician’s musician and songwriter who makes albums – eight so far, including this new one – Edgeland, that more or less everybody can listen to.
Don’t be fooled by the country, Americana, alt-country that she’s been tagged with the most. Sure, she has written songs that people like Radney Foster and Trisha Yearwood have turned into country hits and has collaborated on albums but the likes of Ryan Adams, Jason Isbell, and Shawn Calvin. With Richey, there always seems to be a twist. A positive one. Like here, on Edgeland she works with a host of stellar Nashville crew, but with people like Chuck Prophet (duet) and Robyn Hitchcock (guitar) chip in.
Edgeland as all those mentioned variations and a bit more. Something like an alternative American Songbook, if you wish. After all, as I read somewhere, Edgeland is the area between urban parts and pure country, something like Ritchey’s music. She dresses everything in country(-ish) clothes, but like on the opener “The Red Line”, brings in urban imagery. Or, for example, on “Can’t Let You Go”, you get this country/pop tune that can hit either (or both) charts with what sounds like easily recognisable Robyn Hitchcock guitar twang he adapted and modified from Roger McGuinn. Then there is something both country and urban about “Black Trees” a ballad that also showcases Richey’s vocal capabilities and writing lyrics.
But then, if she didn’t have either of those she wouldn’t be singing vocals on so many other people’s albums, nor would her songs be so sought by other artists if the lyrics were crap. Richey sings in a voice that doesn’t have any of those affectations you can associate with many ‘traditional’ country singers and seems to be adaptable to any kind of music. On the other hand, her lyrics don’t exhibit that standard “my pains” (and mine only) so often heard in country music. Whatever she sings about presents her feelings and visions, but the lyrics give enough space for the listener to project their own feelings and visions.
The more you play Edgeland and more you get to the close to the finish, the more nuances you discover that Richey slipped in and the more you want to press the replay button again.