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.