Zoe Mulford,
Roadside Saints
(Azalea City, 2006)

Zoe Mulford blends folk-rock, the blues and bluegrass to create the music for Roadside Saints. The imagery pulls on the everyday, and the warmth in her voice keeps the message of the songs down to earth.

A story about a set of glasses becomes an extended metaphor in "Elegy (Crystal Glass)," with the music adding grace to the words. The everyday is transformed again in "Gonna Wear Red," with the music's soft folk-rock sound serving to ground the track. There is a quiet prayer repeated in the chorus of "Our Lady of the Highways," and the shift from the previous song to this is very hard to miss. A piece of history lies at the root of "The American Wake" -- fittingly, the song has a very traditional feel.

The switch to bluegrass underscores the tragedy in the tale slowly revealed in "Nobody Knocking." There is a lighter edge to the blues in "Gone is Gone" as things still end. Life and dreams blend together in "Those Boys," the music becoming the background to give a stage to the words. Another story drifts in through the images in "The Angel in the Storm," with the tempo dancing the story into memory.

Sometimes the blues can leave you smiling no matter what the words may say, and "Blues for Two" is proof of that. "Stock" is a very light-hearted look at making stock and writing songs. A glimpse into another culture gave birth to "Stone Song," and the words are full love and grace. Some songs work best as closers, and "The Earth & the Sky" brings a fond farewell.

There is a connecting thread that winds from start of finish of Roadside Saints as the songs are tied together by simple things. Zoe Mulford reminds us that they have meaning and weight and relevance in the lives we live.

review by
Paul de Bruijn

26 July 2008

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