REBECCA PRONSKY – ONLY DAUGHTER
2013 – Nine Mile Records
Whilst Rebecca has in the previous five albums of her career (one of them live) always been placed in or around the country music genre for promotional purposes her songwriting has never sat comfortably in that field. There is a lot more depth to her songs than much of that usually found in country music. Her previous offering, ‘Viewfinder,’ whilst having an instrumentation used in country music had lyrically started to drift further away and this current excellent recording goes even further. Her problem, if it can be seen as such, is that her beautiful clear vocals always seem to evoke a country feeling in
virtually everything she sings. As if to enhance that feeling her husband, musical partner and producer Rich Bennett’s virtuosic chiming guitar variations serve to show that ‘country’ is where the couples tap root lies.
Lyrically, it seems that the ‘country music’ genre is far too limiting to restrain a singer songwriter who likes to explore deep emotions and the world at large rather than being stuck in a downhome timewarp, albeit a timewarp that many (including me!) love. Rather than using many of the usual country themes her songs on this album in particular are tales about how she sees the modern world, with some of them having confrontational aspects. It could even be rooted in personal philosophy, as if she has reached the stage where there is some clarity, certainly thematically, as a consequence of which the recording is much deeper than most ‘country’ albums. Much of the musical sound is country but the album is probably closer to folksy protest lyrically, with many of the songs being quite topical and down to earth with an absence of happy endings. However, the jangling guitars and
country vocal tones are never far away although subject wise this album can’t really be tied into any particular genre.
There is a gritty darkness that pervades the whole album despite the lightness of some of the melodies, to such an extent that on occasions anyone playing the album without listening to the lyrics would quite possibly come up with a different interpretation of some of the songs. All songs are written by Rebecca with the exception of a gorgeous version of the Mark Kozelek penned ballad Glenn Tipton that thanks to her trilling vocal actually does have the feel of a country song
Album opener Rise Up is a dark tale of revolution with a call to arms for the injustices of ‘the land of the free’ with Rebecca’s gorgeous vocals and Rich Bennett’s twangy, chiming guitar providing an appealing contrast to the lyrics. Beauty and the beast maybe? Cold Hard Cash is a quite hard hitting tale of disaffection with, but acceptance of, life and self reliance, with a nice jangling twangy guitar sound yet still with more of the feel of an indie folk protest song! These are probably some highly personal sentiments, with the album taking it’s title from a phrase in the song. Come Down is another composition with a lovely twangy guitar sound on a story about feet returning to the ground following the loss of dreams and the final song Please Forget Me, with Rebecca’s lovely vocals at times trilling, is a story of being worn down by life and a loss of ambition but on a song that is musically contradictory with it’s nice easy going sound.
Ultimately, this is a recording that many will see as a ‘country music’ album but it covers a much broader expanse than that and despite the instrumentation backing up that claim, lyrically this is a deep and often thought provoking album.