Savage on the Downhill – Amber Cross (reviewed by T. Bebedor)

With a voice sounding like Stevie Nicks cutting down pine trees with a wood saw, singer/songwriter Amber Cross has a depth and strength to her voice that betrays her small frame. It conveys emotion and a wisdom that is difficult to find in other female singers from the Americana genre, you can hear the truth in her words and imagine the dirt under her nails because every word she sings sounds as if it comes from years of experience and living under the spell of the American wilderness.

This isn’t the high-polished, produced-within-an-inch-of-its-life country music, these are the tales of frontiersmen, the stories of the homestead, the love and the loss and the honest toil of the common men and women who have shaped the land. Admittedly, pretty dramatic stuff, but there are dramatic words used and lyrics that conjure images (“barking dogs rule the moonless night”) delivering you straight into the brown soil and mountain trails of California.

Cross is joined by musicians Ray Bonneville, Gurf Morlix and Tim O’Brien in producing this album and the authenticity of the genre shines through, someone once told me that the main difference between Americana and Country music was the boots; Country music is the fantasy, tall hats and shiny boots while Americana music is the split, damaged and dirty boots. This album wears its dirty boots with pride, the musicianship is fantastic, no need for frills or sparkles when the story is the gift and that voice will support and comfort you one minute but then cut you down the next; a little like the American landscape itself.

This is an album that doesn’t pretend to be cool or anything other than what it is, this is an album written from a love of the land about those who live off the land and, given time to sink in, repays you with not only music but a quiet retreat you can visit whenever you like.

 

 

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