TumbleWeedyWorld (True North, 2023)
Reviewed by Jim Hynes
Backed by a fully simpatico acoustic band that adds just the right touches, she weaves through country and bluegrass styles, with tinges of pop coloring a few. She has written more than 900 songs in her career, so it's all about the songcraft and her smooth, honey-sweet voice that carries her straightforward, yet incisive lyrics.
A creature such as a night owl becomes a metaphor for incompatible relationships – "I wish you were a night owl too/Think of all the beautiful things we could do." The mandolin driven "Hwy 105" plays to a mid-tempo as she ruminates on a past love whose memory she can't shake when cruising down the highway with the windows down in an attempt to relieve those lingering, inescapable memories. It's the pure essence of superior songwriting.
Listen to her raise her voice an octave in "Cold, Cold Moon" to emphasize her chilly side to the lover who may be blind to that aspect of her personality. The intersection of simplicity and impact in her lyrics are at their best in "Johnny Without June" – "I'd give anything to turn back time/I'd give anything to walk the line/To join you on that funeral pyre/To go down in that ring of fire."
Dissolution of relationships is central to many of the tunes in the latter half., but again the clean instrumentation and her pristine voice take the edges off. "Hide Your Heart" is about leaving while the spiteful "All Bitter Never Sweet" speaks to the all too common notion of taking one for granted. This same theme is amplified in another gem, "Sorry's Just Not Good Enough" – "I'm sure you think I'm not as smart as you/And You'll just keep on doing what you do/I'm not a fool and I'm not blind/I was only being kind/And sorry's just not good enough this time."
The strung-out title comes from a line in "Palomino," with the notion that we need to cope with change no matter what the circumstances – "I'm a lonesome drifting girl/In my tumbleweedyworld." Perhaps Miles is that but above all, she's a terrific songwriter, mature in her outlook, and relatable in so many ways.
CDs by Lynn Miles
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