If you've ever wondered what makes a good song great, listen closely to Amy Speace's Water Landing from her new Songs For Bright Street album. The combination of sparse electric piano, tremolo guitar and synthesized organ is pure magic (in a close your eyes and let the music overtake you kind of way), especially beneath the stunningly beautiful harmonies of Speace and her male counterpart (there was no info on the CD jacket or I would list the name here, believe me). Slow but moving, all elements combine for only a bit over three minutes and while it may seem too short, in the old days of vinyl it was what sometimes made us listen over and over to virtual exhaustion before tossing headphones aside and taking long walks. This, my friends, is music.
It is also an anomaly on this album, but don't let that freak you out because you don't need a whole album of Water Landings to appreciate this. Speace and band (The Tear Jerkers) hand us plenty to contemplate. Slow, melodic ballads, like Make Me Lonely Again which begs "If this is what love is/Make me lonely again"; Home, a heart-rending look at loving someone from afar; Two, which shows that Speace can do folk as well as anyone; Right Through to Me and Can't Find a Reason to Cry, both candidates for a country hit; and The Real Thing, a cross between Nancy Sinatra's Boots and June Carter Cash's Jackson (with Johnny, of course). They rock, too, especially on Not the Heartless Kind with Speace's attitudinal poet/talk/sing vocals and some bruising slide work.
This could almost be country, but it's not. Speace is better than the genre and much more diverse than what Nashville spews these days. Indeed, the one straight out country track, Double Wide Trailer, seems a bit out of place (the Bud Lite bottles are flying my direction now) with its over the top twang, yet even it is worth it for the humorous lyrics. And, really, it is offset by a countryfied version of Debbie Harry and Chris Stein's (Blondie) Dreaming which stands out, partially due to super tasty pedal steel work.
About Amy Speace: She has a beautiful higher register (her lower register is right fine, too), so beautiful that I wonder why she doesn't write for it more often. When she lets loose, she really lets loose and it is sometimes dazzling. Then again, maybe more would make what's there less appealing. Maybe this is the paradigm of less is more, eh?
And in case you're wondering, the musicianship (supplied ably by The Tear Jerks) is exceptional, as is production by head Jerk himself, James Mastro. If this be truly her band, it might well be worth travelling a hundred or so miles to see them. They're that good.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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