Lucy Billings – No Other Road (Sassy Time Records) CD review –
In this homogenized, corporate world we live in, it’s nice to get a disc like this. It gives us hope that things truly are different in other parts of the country. If there’s a recurring theme that weaves through No Other Road, the singer’s second disc, it’s freedom; freedom to leave a relationship on your own terms, or freedom to just move around, be it as a kid on a bike, a horse or just getting out and driving after losing a job. It’s no surprise that all this talk of independence comes from a native of Arizona.
Billings has a knack for writing songs that make you feel like your part of the story, yet she injects enough melody to keep them memorable. Her clear singing and acoustic guitar work would be enough to make these good songs on their own, but she’s enlisted the help of producer John Jennings, known for his Grammy-nominated albums with Mary Chapin Carpenter, and he wraps Billings’ songs in a soundscape of acoustic instruments: fiddle, banjo, mandolin, piano and steel guitar, that all help add incredible colors to the tracks. Take “Let’s Not and Say We Did” for example: the fluid fiddle playing helps add to the buoyancy of the lyrics, based on something Billings’ mother used to say. Another standout is “My Caballo,” where Billings tenderly recalls her horse helping her out of a scrape or two. “You Make It Easy” is a surprise, with its jangly 12-string electric guitar.
Then there’s “Daddy’s Last Drive,” the unbelievable but true story of Billings’ father having a heart attack while behind the wheel and how the car continued to drive a long way. A few of the songs deal with the common theme of failed relationships, yet Billings doesn’t wallow in her misery, choosing instead to look at her mistakes as part of the journey. There’s something in the way she pronounces certain words that tips you that she’s not from the big city, adding another layer of authenticity – this isn’t slick, Nashville pop country, but real music played by real people.
Although this is an independent release, there’s nothing amateurish about it: the instrumentation is tasty throughout, the production is warm, even the album artwork, with Billings superimposed on an animated countryside, adds to the mood of the disc. Earthy and inviting, No Other Road is a great listen by an up and coming artist. –Tony Peters
Check out a great video for Lucy’s new song “My Caballo” by clicking here