On Kim Richey’s first album for nearly five years she has worked with a variety of different musicians including Chuck Prophet, Mando Saenz and Jenny Queen. The title might suggest she’s trying something new but Edgeland seems to be more a reflection of where she is in life: traveling on the margins, a place where you can watch the world go by and contemplate life from a distance. The excellent songwriting on this album proves ‘Edgeland’ is a place to spend some quality time in.
Opener The Red Line is a story set in a train station – she misses her train and so just stops to watch the world go by. She meant to buy a ticket, board the train and go somewhere but in the end she spent her time waiting and just observing others. While many country artists go for the confessional this song looks outwards for inspiration, although that in itself tells us much about the quiet, contemplative songwriter we are listening to.
Chase Wild Horses is more of a personal song, assessing her past. She’s been wild and understands what it means to go after your dreams but now she’s accepted her lot in life. It’s beautifully sung, her voice still sounding fresh and innocent, despite the weariness in her words.
Leaving Song, like a few on this album, pairs Richey up with a male vocalist – this one features Pat Mclaughlin (also a member of John Prine’s band) and their voices compliment each other well. The upbeat vibe of the song is unexpected – this ain’t no leaving song. Sometimes people just need to hit the highway – they will find their way back eventually.
Pin A Rose is a song about domestic abuse and how helpless you can feel watching someone go through that experience, especially when they reject your warnings and advice. Musically this is one of the less rootsy songs and the dark atmosphere created fits the tone of the song.
High Time is much more folky and stripped back in comparison and like a lot of the songs on the album she finds wisdom in missed opportunities and mistakes. They don’t weigh her down as she’s not afraid to contemplate her regrets and hope for ‘the weather to change.’
Can’t Let You Go is the best vocal performance on the album – an uplifting song about getting over your heartbreak that sounds straight out of a 90s indie movie (it would be perfect in this movie – if you’ve seen it then we should talk). It’s not that this song is particularly country either – there’s a different quality to this music, and thankfully we can call it Americana now.
Your Dear John is a character song where she imagines a man refusing to open his break up letter so he can avoid the truth. It’s a lovely song, and the guitar playing is atmospheric, in contrast with the sweetness of her voice.
Not for Money or Love contemplates life and concludes that ‘what might have been never was’. To accept your fate in life sounds like freedom. The album finishes on another highlight, Whistle on Occasion, her duet with Chuck Prophet which is all about embracing the simple things in life. Count my blessings when I find them/ got my hands in my pocket/ my feet on the ground / I might whistle on occasion when there’s no one else around. It’s a simple little love song (sadly lacking in whistling though) and overall a fine way to finish the album.
Before reviewing this album I hadn’t listened to any of Kim Richey’s previous work, but after experiencing the quality and wisdom of the songwriting on Edgeland I now consider myself a fan (send me any recommendations as to what to listen to next). I am also looking forward to seeing her open shows with Gretchen Peters on her upcoming tour, please see dates at this link and buy tickets to support both of these incredible women.