Reviewed by Henry L. Carrigan Jr.
At a certain time of life, loss stands squarely at the center of our lives, etching its marks deep into our hearts. We can either rail at that loss or embrace it and bathe in the healing that comes our way through conversations and song. On her seventh solo album, longtime Austin singer and songwriter Albert, who is also the founder and president of Swan Songs, a central Texas non-profit that fulfills musical wishes for the terminally ill, chooses the latter as she weaves her way through the inchoate beauty concealed just below the surface of the loss of love and the loss of loved ones.
The title cut channels Patty Loveless' "Nothin' But the Wheel" as Albert holds on in song to the memory of her mother-in-law, Darleen; Albert simply transcribed Darleen's final words as she prepared to "round that final bend," and her husband, Chris Gage, opens the tune with haunting piano chords. Albert soon wends her voice under and around those chords in a first verse that is pure as a prayer.
Jerry Jeff Walker, who co-wrote "Old New Mexico" with Albert, joins her on this galloping tune of longing and regret and moving on; Eliza Gilkyson lends harmony vocals as well, while Kym Warner of The Greencards provides some sparkling mandolin. Lloyd Maines' aching Dobro underscores Albert's torch singing on the waltzing "On That Beautiful Day," while Kim Deschamps weaves his jaunty pedal steel licks to the sprightly, soulful, and hope-filled ballad "Little One." Albert's version of Jackson Browne's "For a Dancer" falls short of Browne's heart-filled, aching original, but her take on Warren Zevon's "Keep Me in Your Heart" captures the tune's sad ironies.
Albert's voice carries the soulful edge of Kim Carnes and Rita Coolidge, and she manages to capture in these singularly beautiful songs the spirits of the loved ones "who have sailed away to new horizons." Albert's album provides healing balm to anyone suffering loss.