It was a wait, wasn't it? Seven years? Maybe eight? Of course, back then Charlotte Kendrick was playing under her own name and not the new moniker Goodbye Blue. Dan Rowe was there, Kendrick and Rowe being the lineup here as well, and the album, titled North of New York, was a folk/country rock gem. I got hold of a copy, wrote a positive review and waited for the next album. Eight years later I get an email. Eight years! There oughtta be a law.
It's not like life took a break during those eight years and after hearing Worth the Wait, I am glad it didn't. While the songs are not all that different from those of the previous album, they are different enough. Better. More mature. More fleshed out. And the voice--- the center of the Kendrick sound? As flowing and beautiful as ever.
The first track, in fact, explains the delay. Allow me to borrow from Kendrick's own pages:
“In October 2014 Dan and I had a fight. No dishes were thrown, and no insults were hurled and later regretted (I know, we’re boring). But it stands out as the moment we knew we’d drifted off course.
“We had done what many reasonable individuals do when faced with the challenge of raising a family: we had set aside a passion in pursuit of stability. I bear-hugged motherhood (I’ve GOT this!) and assumed my need for fulfillment would be met entirely by my babies (no pressure, kids!), while Dan figured out how to provide for our little clan. And then seven years went by.
“Where did we go? That was the essence of our fight. They say every conflict is an opportunity for connection, but at the time we didn’t see it that way. We just saw we were tired, pseudo-grown ups who no longer resembled the people we were when we had met ten years before.
“The good news is, after a year and half of seemingly impossible logistics, rediscovering our incredibly resilient children, and wrangling eight years of inspiration into song, we have a new album.
“It is our attempt to right our ship.”
Consider it righted. The explanation begins “The kids are okay/The dog is going grey/House needs work but it's gonna be great someday/Yeah, the kids are okay.” Apologies. We took a side trip and started a family but we're back now and “the kids are okay.” It's a great start and Kendrick keeps it going, her writing skills picking right up where she left off.
The voices are the core, Rowe lending a light harmonic touch where needed, content to play a supporting role as both a singer and an instrumentalist. It's the balance, you see, and the sincerity. The lack of bells and whistles, the presence of mind to make each song exactly what it is and nothing less and nothing more.
Starting back around 2005 or so, I began hearing about this whole Americana thing and struggled to understand the need for a new genre. Hearing Worth the Wait has me rethinking that stance. Perhaps there is a place somewhere between folk and country because some of Kendrick's best songs do not quite fit the molds, if you will. Songs like “Where Did I Go” with its folkiness leaning toward but not reaching country, “Light the Way” which is just to the right of folk but a little bit Pop too, or the astoundingly beautiful and slightly upbeat title song, “Worth Your Wait,” which takes me away with its melody, harmonies and shuffling rhythm.
I pulled out my copy of North of New York after my first time through Worth the Wait just to compare and I was surprised how close they were in many aspects and how far apart in others. You have to listen closely, but there is progress here, subtle though it might seem.
You know, I get a feeling of family in the new album, too, and it's not just because of Kendrick's explanation. Those seven years have added something to the mix, smoothed it out or maybe just added an aura that I find myself thankful for. And I have to add that I truly am glad that the kids are okay.