Reading that this album was composed in the main in a secluded log cabin in the Canadian Rockies, we were expecting a soul searching acoustic laced forlorn collection of laments. Instead of that we find that Beth Bombara, after a lengthy bout of touring, took the time out to recharge her batteries and having done that, headed to the studio and plugged into the mains. Sharing the voltage with Bombara is her excellent road tested band along with co-producer John Calvin Abney on keyboards. They’re a versatile bunch and add a lot of oomph to Bombara’s fine songs with some of the songs delivered with the finesse of bands such as Little Feat or even The Band while Bombara recalls the likes of Kathleen Edwards or Aimee Mann.
The album kicks off with the punchy I Only Cry When I’m Alone which is girdled with some excellent sinewy guitars and a pulverising beat as Bombara admits to her insecurities. Upside Down follows in a similar manner although the guitars are crunchier and the solos somewhat snarlier while Anymore opens with Bombara’s plaintive guitar stutterings before swelling into a wonderful example of that good old cosmic American music with guitars growling and gliding as her voice soars. She then dives into the most country sounding song on the album on Tenderhearted which in style recalls Courtney Marie Andrews although Bombara comes across as made of tougher stuff as she recounts the rough edges of her tender hearted lover while the band dig into a muscular country rock groove. Talking of the band, they really take flight on Does It Echo. Opening with ominous percussion, guitars and electric piano, Bombara then weighs in with her portents of doom before a wonderful instrumental coda, which is quite blissful in the manner of David Crosby’s If I Could Only Remember My Name, closes the proceedings.
Invoking the Stones on the ballsy Good News and getting real sleazy on Criminal Tongue, Bombara and the band show they can rock out but the title song shows that there’s a power pop pulse also beating within. The album closes with Bombara accompanied only by piano and strings on a proper log cabin song at last. However, instead of an introspective breast beating exercise, she seizes here an opportunity to deliver a quietly understated comment on the current political climate in the USA. One leaves the album with the thought that it’s people such as Bombara who have the power to make America great again and that there’s an army out there. Hopefully they will start to tune in.