Review: Kimberly Morgan York Goes Full Steam Ahead

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Kimberly Morgan York/Keep On Goin’/KMY Entertainment
3.5 Out of Five Stars

If country music—the real country music finds its basis in heartache and hardship, then consider Kimberly Morgan York to be all about authenticity. Aside from the fact that she retains an obvious set of influences—Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, and Loretta Lynn rise to the top of the list—her backstory gives her the credence and conviction that allows her songs to ring and resonate. 

Born in Kentucky and raised in a musical family, she began singing in church at the tender age of three. At age 16, she picked up her first guitar and started writing songs. She first performed solo while attending Cornell University before exploring far horizons, mostly out West, and then settling in Sausalito where she made the decision to pursue music full-time after meeting and subsequently marrying Brad Morgan of the band Drive-By Truckers. He maintained his career with the Truckers while she went on to pursue her muse, first with a band by the dubious name Southern Bitch and later on her own. Nevertheless, with the birth of the couple’s daughter, she put her pursuits on hold to devote herself to parenthood. Meanwhile, her relationship with Morgan ended in divorce, as did a second marriage as well.

If you’ve followed the narrative so far, then you’re sure to realize that York has plenty of turbulence and trauma to draw from, and indeed, with her exemplary new album, Keep on Going, she takes full advantage.

An able backing band—Scott Baxendale(guitar), David Barbe (bass, engineering) Cracker’s Carlton Owens (drums), Matt Stoessel (pedal steel) and Adam Poulin (violin), and the Truckers’ Jay Gonzales (piano)—helps her share her stories through song with a clarity that leads no doubt as to her credence and conviction. The fact that these melodic episodes are based on actual circumstances makes them all the more compelling.

Songs such as “Three Chances,” “Your Fool, “Fallen” “Numb,” and “Ruby” find her knowing, forceful and formidable in terms of her persuasive prowess, tempered with a certain sass and sashay.  Pedal steel underscores the melodies with the proper degree of prudence, adding an inherent emotional imprint as well. Nevertheless, it’s York’s clear conviction that resonates throughout. Even taking the commercial implications of the closing song—a cover of Dr. Hook’s big hit, “Sharing the Night Together”—into consideration, York’s seductive sway is utterly too hard to resist.

A landmark LP, Keep On Goin’ provides all the persuasion needed.

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