Pushing The Envelope Through Edgeland
Kim Richey on April 21, 2018
Eight-hour car rides listening to Stephen King books on tape while crisscrossing through a Midwestern and Appalachia itinerary comes with the territory of a touring musician. Kim Richey is one artist who is constantly moving, placing her beloved “stuff” in storage while living and performing in her home country and abroad. Touring behind her brand new release Edgeland, Richey arrived at one of her favorite venues Saturday night, the historic and intimate G.A.R. Hall in Peninsula, Ohio, to perform in front of a capacity crowd.
Produced by Brad Jones and recorded at his Alex The Great Studio in Nashville, Richey’s eighth studio album consists of 12 musical postcards co-written with some of her contemporaries including Mike Henderson, Chuck Prophet, and Mando Saenz. Always “owning it” and constantly writing as her connection to the world, the new songs released by Yep Roc Records encompass the landscapes Richey has seen since her last record, Thorn in My Heart, was released in 2013.
Joined onstage by Jack Ruch on electric guitar/vocals and Billy Harvey on bass/vocals, Richey and her trusted acoustic guitar began the evening at the beginning of her musical journey with “Those Words We Said” from her 1995 debut album. For those that follow postings on social media, many are revealing their ten most influential albums. Taking a flyer on this one 23 years ago has been priceless not only in its content, but to follow Richey’s brilliant songbook career over decades of performances. Her forte is writing songs with great hooks and emotion that continue to sound fresh as the compositions define her catalog. She also played “Chinese Boxes,” inspired by a villain in a James Bond movie who was like a nest of Chinese boxes, and “Circus Song,” a story created from a tattoo sleeve of a clown being mauled by a tiger, off 2001’s Rise. Other stops on the lifeline included “Wreck Your Wheels” and the gorgeous “Thorn In My Heart” to close out the first portion of the show.
Now that the audience was warmed up, Richey performed her next big single about growing up, titled “Chase Wild Horses,” beginning a run of songs off the Edgeland album. A song about domestic abuse and repeating cycles, “Pin A Rose” was shot as a video during a torrential thunderstorm on Nashville’s Broadway strip. The slow tempo “Can’t Let You Go” and a song called “Your Dear John” about a barge worker navigating up and down the Ohio River who refuses to read a letter which will end his romance were well recieved. Growing up in McConnelsville, Ohio, on the banks of the Muskingum River, the blue collar daughter of a mine working father and a telephone operator mother, Richey sang “Not For Money or Love” about her family. The sixth song performed from the new record was “Leaving Song,” a catchy tune about tasting the world, co-written with Al Anderson and Pat McLaughlin.
Dreamy lead guitar effects from Ruch began “Keep Me” and Richey’s ode to a country song “Angels’ Share” were great, but she really showed her diversity when singing the sultry torch song “Reel Me In” with some lovely jazz riffs from Ruch. You could close your eyes and feel the open plains and western skies during “Every River” and hear a pin drop when Richey came to the front of the stage to sing “Straight As The Crow Flies” without a mic and just Ruch on acoustic guitar. For an encore, Richey closed out the show with “Don’t Let Me Down Easy” and the beautiful “I’m Alright” that touched the hearts of all in attendance. Although the show came to a close, Edgeland will remind listeners of a wonderful evening until Richey returns … and be a contender as “Best Of” on this writer’s year-end album review list.