River of Sand
Whoever dumped Lynne Hanson unleashed a melancholy that made for a solid collection of songs from this celebrated Canadian songwriter. Produced by Lynn Miles, another talented Canadian musician, they’ve put together a recording that bursts with a live feel that features a crack-shot band of twangy guitars, lonesome pedal steel, driving percussion and more. The songs are dark with images of dust, whiskey and the “smell of lonely”; even the devil makes a couple of appearances. The artwork is glum, too – a grey, black and dirty gold painting featuring an unsmiling Lynne.
The drums push the title cut through with a rough edge of electric guitar. In “Whiskey and Tears” she’s “Chasing whiskey with what’s left of my tears.” It has a toe-tapping beat like many of the songs; a refreshing contradiction to the sad lyrics. She’s trying to convince herself of something better in the ballad “This Too Shall Pass” but she doesn’t really believe it. In “Waiting by the Water” she protests, “I said forever, you said maybe” as an eerie pedal steel wails in the background. “Tightrope” talks of rescue that never comes. There’s a guitar in “Foolish Things” that has an underwater kind of sound, perfect for this song where she wonders “What if love is just a dream?” “Good Intentions” is an interesting story with a surprise ending about a male trucker who picks up a female hitchhiker, but it doesn’t fit in well with the other songs that have more of a personal feel. In “Colour My Summers Blue” she’s missing someone. “That Old House” uses great imagery to paint the end of a relationship where the ring goes on the shelf by the bedroom door. The disc ends with a ray of hope, “Trading in My Lonesome,” a tune she wrote with Lynn Miles. It’s the best cut, with a memorable chorus that’ll stay in your head for a while. If you’re getting over a break-up, this is a great soundtrack of well-written songs to accompany crying in your beer, but more variety in the subject matter would have been better for the rest of us.
— Jamie Anderson