Review: A River Runs Through It for Eliza Gilkyson

Eliza Gilkyson/Songs from the River Wind/Howlin’ Dog Records
4.5 out of Five Stars

Videos by American Songwriter

Eliza Gilkyson came by her song-crafting skills naturally. Her father, Terry Gilkyson, was a hit songwriter in the ‘50s and ‘60s, as well as an Oscar-nominated singer and longtime composer of Disney movie scores. Eliza made her recording debut on some of her dad’s demos before eventually crafting a career of her own beginning at age 19. Like her brother Tony, a member of the bands X and Lone Justice, she’s excelled by making music ever since. 

Her new album, Songs from the River Wind, finds the Grammy-nominated and multiple Austin Music Award and Folk Alliance Music Award-winning singer/songwriter mining her muse with renewed purity and passion. Where her more recent efforts have tackled the darkness and despair brought on by political misdeeds, in particular, this new set of songs is immersed in spirituality and celebration. It was inspired by her recent move to New Mexico, the place where she was raised and which she has called home at various intervals ever since. It is, after all, a setting she’s always had a special affinity for, and as a result, this new set of songs evokes imagery that resonates remarkably as a result. It’s an homage to her love of the American West and the joy of living in a land that provides sustenance and stability in an otherwise tumultuous time.

“Oh I have been a wanderer, I roam from town to town,” she sings on the beguiling autobiographical opener “Wanderin’.” “Singing for my supper, with no thoughts of settling down…”

Likewise, “Buffalo Gals Redux” takes a traditional cowboy tune and reworks it from a feminine perspective. The same can be said of another old western standard, “Colorado Trail,” a song that effectively captures a romantic reflection of life at the far end of the horizon. So too, the softly swaying Gilkyson original, “Farthest End,” provides its own evocative imagery, just as “Charlie Moore,” a gently plucked narrative, paints its picture of a dreamer and drifter that personifies the true backcountry loner, explore and adventurer.

Evocative and alluring, the title track and “Before the Great River Was Tamed” offer further testament to Gilkyson’s love of her western environs. At the same time, “At the Foot of the Mountain” and “The Hill Behind This House” celebrate the solitary serenity found in those fabled environs Gilkyson is so happy to call home.

In fact, every entry has the effect of transporting the listener to Gilkyson’s regal realms. A heartfelt homage in its entirety, Songs from the River Wind is, in fact, one of the most evocative offerings imaginable. It is, to sum up, a most exquisite collection.

Photo courtesy Propeller Publicity

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