Those born under the year of the rabbit are said to be elegant, gentle, quiet and melancholic. Such descriptions perfectly suit Allison Pierce, who is starting out as solo artist after a long career working with her sister in The Pierces. Year of the Rabbit is rich blend of folk, country and indie influences which fits well into the blossoming Americana genre and on the strength of the songs it feels like she has finally found her true musical home.
The Pierces always walked the line between polished pop and indie credibility, which at times left them adrift of both worlds. There was a glossy glamour to her previous music which is absent on this solo record – here Allison is rooted in the earth and this feeling is aided by Ethan Johns’ quietly lush production.
Allison’s voice, allowed to stand front and centre for the first time, has a perfect tone for the style of the acoustic opening song Fool Him. This is the story of a complicated relationship where you don’t know who’s cheating on who – classic country in its themes as well as sound.
The video for Evidence has Allison walking down a street and through fields – looking happily free despite the devil who’s following her. There’s no malice in his presence – in fact she’s enjoying his company. The song is hugely catchy and you start to sing along instantly. Well the devil always had the best tunes, didn’t he?
Follow You Down is more folk influenced and can’t help sounding a little Celtic (or is it just because I’m Scottish that I hear our traditional music everywhere?). On this song she sings of an unhealthy relationship where she has been happily seduced by someone, despite the hell that they may cause her.
Never Coming Back uses the upper reaches of her voice to beautiful effect. Here her lover has left her behind, without even a kiss goodbye. She’s looking back to this relationship fondly, despite being heartbroken. It’s fitting then that the next song Sea of Love is so joyful and celebratory. Despite her hardships and the distance between her and her beloved she still sings love is all we’ve got and all we’ll ever need.
Drink One For You again has her back heartbroken and now she’s in the bar drowning her sorrows. Where else can you go? Drinking for two, I’ll drink one for you. You can’t help but think she’s better off without this guy, even if she’s not brave enough to admit it yet. The theme may be old fashioned, but then again this is the reality of many women’s lives even if it’s quite far away from the feminist ideal.
To the Grave is very hippie 60s in its style, even if the lyrics feel a little macabre at first. Death will inevitably come. We’re all helpless to the song. Marching us all to our graves. She can’t escape this relationship, just like you can’t avoid death and taxes. There’s no doom in the sound, she’s happily entranced by this dark magic.
There’s a gospel feel to the a cappella It Is Well With My Soul, echoing some of the religious themes subtly woven in this album. The closing song Peace Like a River considers the importance of forgiveness, despite everything she only wishes the best for the wandering souls who have left her behind.
The rabbit in China is seen as a symbol of hope, and you feel this optimistic spirit throughout the music. Year of the Rabbit is an album of natural beauty which is definitely worth following.