Eliza Blue,
The Road Home
(independent, 2010)

Although the promotional material makes much of Eliza Blue's interest in old-time Appalachian music, little of that -- beyond her banjo, not usually played particularly traditionally -- is in evidence on The Road Home. Nearly everything on this CD speaks to the influence of early Joni Mitchell, who emerged from the 1960s folk scene without ever being an actual folk singer.

A Twins Cities-based singer-songwriter, Blue here and there does sound like a folk singer (e.g., "Swords & Shields," with its airy clawhammer-banjo backing, and the occasional welcome intervention of an archaic-sounding fiddle), but mostly it's the sort of acoustic art-song approach forever associated with Mitchell's first two albums. Like Mitchell, Blue is a beautifully effective vocalist and a fashioner of strong, full-bodied melodies defined by brooding romanticism. Here, though, some of the material is addressed to same-sex lovers. Not a great deal is made of this, and in Blue's treatment it is little more than detail.

There is no question that Blue is more than ordinarily talented. The Road Home is eminently listenable if you're attuned to inward-looking singer-songwriters. Which, as it happens, I am not. So this is not for me, but it may be for you. Next time around, in any event, I expect that she will sound more like Eliza Blue and less like a first-rate Joni Mitchell imitator.

music review by
Jerome Clark

25 September 2010

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