It’s no coincidence that this solid, bluesy offering has more than a hint of Ashley Cleveland’s gritty sound.
Label: Hot Records / Hippie Chick Twang Records
Time: 11 tracks / 45 mins
‘Americana’. It’s a handy catch-all phrase. I tend to think of it as roosty, folky music with a light colouring of blues, but it can be so much wider than that, as Eve Selis proves.
Opener “Fearless Heart” is a country-tinged belter of a song and for all her energy and swagger, this is one of several with a vulnerable underside in the lyric. With its rock attitude and country decoration, it sums up a lot of her genre blending approach.
It gets even more intense with the blues power of “Long Way to Go,” where Selis lets her voice power up to 35,000 feet. Joined by some solid blues guitar and a wailing harp, this one is really tight, right up to the coda that jams out in a fade.
Those looking for something more in the Nashville line will enjoy “While the Night is Still Young,” a straight new country piece, as shown by lyrics like,
“Whether I roll like Willie or crash like Hank /
I want to pull in to heaven with an empty tank”
As a reader of this site, if you don’t know Selis yet, you may understand this disc better via its producer. Kenny Greenberg, who also plays guitars, is married to Ashley Cleveland, and is working with a very similar singer here: gritty, impassioned and soulful, especially on “Little Wars” (which is a prime one to download, if you’re not stretching to the whole disc).
His playing shines across the disc, but is at its vibiest on “Can’t See Past Myself,” where it shimmers and shines.
Selis is clearly an experienced songwriter. Her lyrics are vague enough that her listeners can read their own lives into her words. Her works are replete with well-worked turns of phrase; they scan naturally and are tautly constructed – almost to the point of a polish that threatens its emotional authenticity.
This isn’t a collection that sells on wild unexpected adventure, or massive hooks, but it does a straightforward job very well indeed. If you are after singable songs, a range of Americana and some vibrant guitar that is as sensitive to the songs as Selis’s impassioned voice, then this is well worth checking out.