It's not uncommon for artists to tour and play complete records during album anniversary years, but Kim Richey has taken the extra (and much appreciated) step of rerecording "Glimmer," and giving it the title, "A Long Way Back: The Songs of Glimmer." This new take is a collection of stripped-down versions of these 1999 songs, produced by Doug Lancio in his basement studio. Although Lancio plays most of the instruments, he also had a little help - most notably, drummer extraordinaire, Aaron Smith. The results are both revealing and rewarding.
Although Richey has never been a particularly aggressive performer, some of these new renditions are strikingly dissimilar to their originals. For example, "Long Way Back" tamps down the percussion significantly and features a flugelhorn solo (instead of an electric guitar fill) that transforms the tune into something more like a night club number.
Although the sonic templates may have been altered, Richey's expressive singing remains unchanged. Much like Mary Chapin Carpenter and Brandi Carlile (two other artists with a foot in both folk and country music), Richey sings with a wonderfully conversational style. You feel like she's singing to you, not at you. These songs also differ from much of the country music world, due to their distinctively introspective nature. At the risk of overgeneralizing genders, Richey writes songs the way most women talk - full of emotional detail. Men, on the other hand, can be so much more 'just the facts ma'am.' Richey doesn't just tell us what's happening; she also expresses how she really feels.
You also have to love the way Richey can turn a phrase. "Can't Lose Them All," which reads and sounds like one of those great Aimee Mann laments, gives hope to all the losers, rather than winners that fall just short of being undefeated. This song, and this whole album, is a reminder of how Richey is so wonderful, yet underrated. Fans will enjoy this album revisit, and hopefully it will earn Kim Richey a host of new admirers.