Two-time Grammy-nominated Kim Richey opens her latest album with the title track “Wreck you Wheels” and the line “you can count the words…”. This is an album where the words do count. The album is woven through with emotional honesty and a multitude of co-written tracks with the likes of Will Kimbrough, the Jayhawks Mark Olson and the very talented Boo Hewerdine. These are treasured ingredients from a world of top class songwriters. There is nothing overly fancy about this album and you can’t help but feel that the making of this album was something of a treat for kim Richey, a chance to let her hair down.
There is an obvious maturity about the words and arrangements. It has that comfortable lived in feel that you expect from the likes of Townes Van Zandt and Steve Earle. This was maybe helped by her decision to co-write the tracks and to return to her Americana roots. Sometimes slipping into something more comfortable allows for a more honest delivery where the energy is a lot more vivid and real. There was clear intent to try and create a home-grown feel as she headed back to Nashville to record with her touring band. There was no fancy studio work – just five musicians in a room, playing together.
The core band on this record went out on the road with me for my last record, “Chinese Boxes”, and they are friends,” says Kim. “We had a great time making the record – we recorded all in the same room at the same time, which was very cozy. It’s a small studio. We used the front seat of the producer’s Honda pulled up next to the door as an isolation booth for the electric guitar amp.
There may be nothing fancy but there is variety. When the Circus Comes to Town is a stand out track musically thanks to some catchy guitar rifts accompanying short-versed stabbing lyrics and gospel singing choruses:
it’s all flash -it’s all glitter
slight of hand – it’s got no soul
slaps your back – takes your money
shakes your hand – leaves you cold
Careful How You Go is a beautiful serene track that conjures the fragility of love or maybe even life. From what I can gather, it was written with a friend after a late night winter walk in London. Other highlights include the Boo Hewerdine co-written tracks, of which there are two. Word to the Wise is written like a letter, heart breaking words of wisdom…to a loved one who prefers to pay the price than change their ways, an all to common story. Many of the tracks leave you pondering what the situation was Kim was singing about which adds to their attraction. Thankfully the lyrics are in the CD inset so you can do your own detective work and create your own worlds around them.
Kim is by no means a newcomer to success. She has been on a 15 year musical journey and Wreck you Wheels marks this journey as a milestone in her career.
Overall the album has been well crafted and beautifully produced by Neilson Hubbard. This isn’t a grower, you can jump straight on in without much effort and settle down for 11 tracks of fine songwriting.