There must be something in the water in Minnesota because this is the third female singer-songwriter that I’ve reviewed in the last few months. I’m not sure if Minnesota is currently the creative centre for Americana music but each of these women have been armed with a guitar, a good singing voice and something to say.
Each of the eleven songs on ‘When The Dust Settles’ show a remarkable song writing talent for observing the larger world as well as the more intimate subject matter of emotions and loss, readers of my reviews will by now know that I like opening tracks, I see it as a prologue of what to expect from the following tracks and ‘Dark Water’ fires out with grit, oomph and energy befitting of a movie soundtrack and puts you in the atmosphere of the wild frontiers of America. It’s an immediate showcase for Arnett’s formidable voice that comes from the gut but reaches the upper notes with ease and control.
There is a change in mood for the next few songs, ‘Blood and Bones’ slows us down to reveal a tender side to Arnett’s voice, “when will we ever learn, we didn’t come this far to watch the world burn” is a standout lyric and sits beautifully in the arrangement that the song has been placed in. Being supported by the classic instruments of this style of music, the songs embrace fiddle, pedal steel and piano to build a cleverly crafted soundscape.
‘This American Life’ tells the story of how things don’t always turn out the way they were promised, America has always been sold to the outside world as a shiny golden country of opportunity and inclusion, but the truth is far darker, Arnett captures this brilliantly with a patient song where a driving beat camouflages wise lyrics describing the promise, the reality and, eventually, the optimism of still seeing good in the fog of let downs. A very strong song and deserving of a larger audience.
In a nutshell Kari Arnett produced a good collection of varied songs that showcases her sensitivity to the world around her. It’s an album for a lazy Sunday morning or a quiet moment to sit and take in what she has to say, it’s an album to return to again and again and holds well against her Minnesota contemporaries.