On Kristina Murray’s second album ‘Southern Ambrosia’, the Nashville based singer invites us to take a journey through the place where she was born and raised. These nine songs explore the grit, guts and ghosts of the South.
Opening the album with a song called Made in America makes it clear that this is an album about how a place defines your identity. I learned how to fight and drink and pray and live right through the pain. Her biting tone is clear – she’s been raised to take no shit. There’s less of a sense of pride in her identity, more just a resigned acceptance of her fate.
If you’re a country singer from the South, you better be prepared to sing about some real characters and the tragic story in the Ballad of Angel and Donnie does that just perfectly. Pink Azaleas conveys a similar sense of place with lines about oaks swaying in the breeze, storms, flowers and floods.
The languid Strong Blood feels like a boiling hot strung-out day in the South. Creating a song through attention to small details is Murray’s strength – we hear the floor fan humming, see the dust on the shelf, smell the cigarette, taste the peach. The humanity of these people and their ultimate sadness is captured beautifully. Music is the only thing that gets you through the darkness.
Tell Me is classic country ballad, her most traditional sounding song on the album. Slow Kill in contrast, has a rocking 90s feel and some nice harmonica. Tell me what good’s praying ever done. Life ain’t nothing but a slow kill. True words which may reference the opioid crisis but could be about how anything in life can destroy you.
Lovers and Liars uses some nice alliteration to expose the problematic nature of relationships. Pitter’s Field has a deliciously dreamy Americana sound and there’s an understated, elegance to the vocal delivery.
Darkness and doubt cloud the album, like on the final song Joke’s On Me, but there’s a resigned acceptance in her words, a steely determination to see the shit show through.
‘Southern Ambrosia’ is a stylish and serious album, showcasing a songwriter with a eye for the hidden truths in the world around her. Life may seem damn hard but give this album a listen and you might just get through.