A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
Musicians like Trisha Yearwood, Ricky Skaggs or Claire Lynch could profit from Irene Kelley's songwriting abilities. So it seemed like high time for Irene Kelley to make her debut album, especially since she's also got the voice for it. And it has definitely been worth the wait.
Irene Kelley was signed to MCA and to SBK/EMI, but obviously neither of these companies was able to recognize what a superb artist they had on their roster. But I don't want to lament the sorry state of big time Nashville here. I want to tell you what a great album evolved out of this difficult time for Irene Kelley.
All of the eleven songs represented here were written by Irene Kelley and various collaborators, including Kim Richey and Claire Lynch. That was probably the good thing that came out of Irene Kelley's time with the big companies - she must have met a lot of other great musicians who recognized her talent and willingly gave a helping hand in creating this CD. Craig Fuller is another of those musicians, who's been in too many bands to mention them all, including Little Feat.
The music is a delightful mixture of bluegrass, folk and some pop, which you might call modern bluefolk. Irene Kelley is not afraid of using electric guitars where necessary, even if the overall impression of the album is an acoustic one.
Dancin' Shoes has certain similarities to Woody Guthrie's Turn Around, but is far from a simple blueprint. Jealousy is another one of the many, many wonderful tracks on this CD, perhaps standing out a bit because of the wonderful harmonies by Claire Lynch. I'm already beginning to have wild dreams, imagining a duet album by Irene Kelley and Claire Lynch. But whether on her own or together, with whatever musical partner, I'm sure Irene Kelley is only able to do great albums. I'm sort of impatiently looking forward to hearing the next CD by Irene Kelley, although to be honest, this is much more than one can reasonably expect from a record, so I'd better be thankful to possess this shiny little disc full of wonders.
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(The CD is available through milesofmusic.com)
Edited by Roberta B. Schwartz