By Larry Stephens
“Americana” seems a catch-all genre, it and “roots.” Kelley McRae and that’s apt just because no other genre fits.
Kelly McRae, who describes her music as Americana, writes songs that are catchy, emotional reflections of her life. The arrangements are good with the instruments woven into the vocals without following any formula. McRae’s husband, Matt Castelein, plays lead guitar well and adds vocals. Harmony is recorded in different ways and their harmony is an equal blending of the voices. The instruments are sometimes too prominent in the mix, making it hard to follow the singer. Spencer Capier plays violin, mandolin and bouzouki and you’ll find he adds a interesting element to the music, especially with his violin. Ben Goheen adds yet another interesting ingredient with the cello and Jon Andersen, playing the lap and pedal steels, adds another element to the cuts. There’s a great kickoff on “Red Dirt Road,” I enjoy the song, though I’m mystfied by lyrics even after listening to it several times.
The title song is a song of love as she travels through life and how she hopes she’s lived her life well to the end. The violin break ties the song together. “Rose” seems to be an ode to a child, expressing love while watching her grow. Each song has a different texture and there’s something about her voice and the music that holds your attention. “Anything worth holding on to is worth letting go” is the message of “If You Need Me,” a song of parting but sustained love. The music lulls you, caresses you, you feel yourself caught up in it and not worrying if you fully understand.
There’s not a track on this CD that I’ll ever try to sing – usually a high form of praise from me – but this is one I’ll keep in my stack to play over again.