I don’t know whether it was the fact she was gay or artistic or that she wanted to have a career in music that caused the most problems between White and her parents, but either way she left her Virginia home at 18 and headed for Boston in pursuit of her dreams. After paying dues on the city’s folk circuit and recording her debut album, she eventually ended up in Nashville. Since which time she’s released a further four well received alt-country albums and a EP that’s seen her described a sweeter voiced Lucinda Williams fronting Fleetwood Mac. However, while views on both sides may have softened, none of them really eased the hurt of the rift between her and her folks.
That’s changed with her latest release Old Postcard, an album she says came about while she was helping them move into assisted living because of their ailing health and she found herself looking through souvenirs of their lives together. This started her writing songs about different forms of home and family which finally came together as a sort of quasi concept album.
Thus, uptempo opener Big Blue Sun with nylon string guitar parts by Sergio Webb is sung in the voice of a homeless man, dreading each day’s arrival of those with normal lives, wishing “I was a baby on my mama’s knee’, a theme explored from a different perspective on Hollow Heart, a country-noir lullaby of a motherless child and the accompanying longing and sense of emptiness.
Elsewhere there’s tales of tough times in Ghetto, the Nashville machismo of the breathily sung, pedal steel keening Get Your Cowboy On, and the ache of losing a child that permeates Goodbye Today. Likewise, pivoting around the death of a soldier, Brothers reflects on times and lives past.
More autobiographically reflective notes sound through the echoey ringing guitar title track’s memories of childhood years and the roots-rock chorus-friendly stride of Daddy Run which incorporates lines from her father’s memoirs while the strutting Mary’s Getting Married brings a playful but dark humour to a song about losing a friend to marriage.
The album closes on the snarly, full-blooded bluesy sound of River Of My Dreams, as she sings of a state where everything is possible, but it’s the numbers where, as on the memories and dreams that haunt the acceptance of Old Stone, she dials down the sound that she’s at her most effective and franks her postcard with a first class stamp.
Review by: Mike Davies
Released via White-Wolf Records 10 March 2014