Album Review: Tales and Tributes of the Deserving and Not So by Kelly Steward

“…exploring love, motherhood, memory and the Midwest…”

Tales and Tributes of the Deserving and Not So by Kelly Steward

Kelly StewardGolden Sun’s instrumentation has a stalking Western feel, commensurate with the story about moving “West towards the sun” with a kid and a guitar. Steward’s vocal is a cross between country and traditional strident singer-songwriter. The departure is seen as a positive new beginning rather than an ending or a defeat. It’s reminiscent of early career, earnest Kelly Clarkson.

We’re southward bound for Mississippi Rising. It broaches how to approach a storm and impending deluge, both real and metaphorical.

Outlaw is a remarkably melodic depiction of manslaughter, life on the run, and trial. We won’t reveal the outcome, but we can assure you that it’s dramatically delivered to a bluesy shuffle.

Traveling Ghost slows things down with the help of a pedal steel wail. It’s a sympathetic but frustrated song about observing the depths of grief: “you’re fading out in your search to find every memory that lies behind you/don’t lose yourself amidst an afterlife.”

Kelly Steward

“I was born in the wrong generation” is sure right about Steward’s style. We hear steel and traditional sounds as she laments the loss of true rock ‘n’ roll and other soundtracks to a Midwestern childhood.

Heartbreak Heart express frustration about the restraining effect of a break-up: “if it wasn’t for you/I would be out there living free.” Despite the subject, it’s got an upbeat melody and catchy hook.

 

Blues licks abound as Steward identifies herself as the Restless Kind: “honey, I’m sorry I must hit the road/I’m growing tired and I’m growing old.” It’s  like a rebuttal to the previous song which is about the whiplash effect of an unexpected departure.

Earthquake is a sad but surprisingly engaging and compelling song about losing a loved on: “an earthquake took you away on your birthday.” Sadly, it was an inspired by a relative who died while helping in the aftermath of an earthquake in Haiti on 2010. A sober thought when you might get that morbid rhyme stuck in your head for days.

No Time For Loving You is a growling Southern rock meets honky tonk via Bonnie Raitt tune with a blistering pace matching her refrain. It seems to be a pre-emptive strike: “you will wake up one day and walk out of my life/love has a way of walking out that way.”

Channeling the drive and vocal talent of Laurel Canyon greats, Steward is something of an old soul exploring love, motherhood, memory and the Midwest.

Photos by Jasmine Rose

 

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