Here's a combination you'd likely never expect in a sentence, let alone in a music review: Chutzpah and country music. The fact is, Erin Sax Seymour could proudly don the Miss Paradox sash: melancholy and upbeat, demure and spunky—all at one and all in the same cut. This multi-layered artist defies country(ish) music's stereotypical neat and tidy compartmentalization. Not for Seymour the classic country one note, I theme song. Sure there's the foundation of country music here: the basic beginning, middle and end approach to story telling. But Seymour infuses her storytelling with intriguing layers and abstracts. Ditto for her voice: straightforward yet you know after the first cut, "Peace Tonight", that there's something below the surface here. If you just listen hard enough you'll be rewarded for your persistence and patience.
The second cut "Good Girl": opens with the initially disappointing corny fiddle and acoustic twang, the type that has you looking over your shoulder for the runaway train heading for the damsel distressed for want of a chivalrous passerby to untie her from those messy railroad tracks. But Seymour, a one-time documentary filmmaker, quickly switches gears and turns this track (the song variety, not the damsel-retaining type) into a gritty, un-girly ditty.
The live "Signs of How this Ends" was created for Long Island Ice Tea -swigging on the front porch whilst swinging the sunset away. As the New Yorker urges: "Take this one on faith."
Try as I might I couldn't come up with one comparison to anyone in my mental Rolodex, under the country heading. No wonder. I'd been flipping through the wrong category. Seymour doesn't remind me of any country artist because she really doesn't fit in that category herself—despite the steel guitar and spare harmonies. If comparisons are to be drawn (even if it's outside the lines) Seymour can be said to be equal parts Janis Joplin, a less nasal Pam Tillis (if a country reference is essential) and, well, YOU give it a shot. Hint: she lists Bonnie Raitt and Van Morrison as major influences. And forget the cutesy Jerry McGuire line: "You had me at Hello". Seymour had me by the end of her first cut wherein she slips in an excerpt of Harry Chapin's "Cat's In The Cradle". Simply lovely.
CD Info and Links
Erin Sax Seymour - Good Girl