‘Safe Distance’ is Janet Simpson’s first solo release since the nineties, although she’s kept busy with bands and projects in the interim period. Fittingly enough the sound of this new record doesn’t veer too far from that decade, creating a loose and live style of Americana and indie rock throughout.
The brilliant opening song Nashville Girls pitches her as an outsider from the town and the musical style of the city too. It sounds a little bit like early Lucinda Williams mixed with The Bangles, which is a pretty perfect combination in my opinion. There’s also a little Mazzy Star vibe to some of the songs on the album like Silverman.
Slip is a moody, dreamy love song about disappearing with someone into the shadows at the end of the night. Songs like Reno and I’m Wrong are full of rock and roll and regrets.
The softer songs like Awe & Wonder, Black Turns Blue and Ain’t Nobody Looking explore loneliness and longing, letting us hear her vulnerable side. Title track Safe Distance really conveys her pain in a perfectly pitched howl. She finishes the album with ‘Wrecked’, a rueful take on her life concluding that living on the outside isn’t so bad.
Trying to stay a ‘Safe Distance’ from danger and trouble can mean freedom, rather than fear. Janet Simpson sings from an outsider’s perspective and a fine album of songs is the welcome result.