Relocating from Seattle to Austin (On New Year’s Day 2013, as recounted on the opening train rhythm chug of Little Piece of History), leaving all but one (drummer Greg Nies) of her Lost High Rollers behind, Zoe Muth’s settled comfortably into the sound of her new home, a perfect fit for the Emmylou and DeMent comparisons that have followed her twangy voice around.
World Of Strangers is Produced by Greg Reiff, who also provides bass, there’s no great departure from her saloon bar country or songs about bruised hearts and lost times, but the move seems to have injected an extra energy to proceedings, many of the songs, notably line-dance friendly Make Me Change My Mind, bustling urgently along while the blue collar (“I was the junk store queen, you were the king of the rusty old machine”) Too Shiny glistens with pedal steel licks and Muth’s aching drawl.
Her honky tonk heart is perfectly expressed on Mama Needs A Margarita, a drowning sorrows number with a chorus that should easily waltz across Texas, as, with its conjoined themes of whisky and restlessness, so should the aptly named swaying Waltz Of The Wayward Wind.
The latter features Brady Zdan on harmonies and she’s not the only familiar name lending their support, Martie Maguire from the Dixie Chicks providing violin and viola on the atypical narrative-based Annabelle and Bruce Robison duetting on keening delicate ballad Somebody I Know, from whence the album’s title comes. With her new band rounded out by Brad Rice on guitars and Sweney Tidball on keys, there’s certainly no faulting the musicianship on display here.
Recognised as one of country music’s finest contemporary writers, an accolade ably reinforced by album closer What Did You Come Back Here For? (even if there’s a hint of John Prince to the melody), she’s also got a good ear for a cover too, here taking Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance tune April Fool and mingling Fairport Convention with Texas blood. A little piece of history in the making, she sings. Indeed so, indeed so.
Review by: Mike Davies
Somebody I Know
UK & Ireland Dates
Zoe Muth returns to the UK and Ireland later this year. Here are the preliminary dates, with more to be added soon.
21 – Old Queen’s Head, London
22 – The Market Theatre, Ledbury
23 – The Prince Albert, Brighton
24 – The Whightman Hall, Shrewsbury
29 – Eden Court Theatre, Inverness
31 – Glasgow Americana Festival
01 – Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline
Released on Signature Sounds, out now
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