Record Of The Week # 139

Jaimee Harris – Boomerang Town

(I went to see Mary Gauthier play a club in York and supporting her, and also playing acoustic guitar for her, was her partner Jaimee Harris. (There’s a review of the gig on the website) Mary was good Jaimee was similarly memorable and coincidentally Harris was releasing a new album at the time. This is that album. A true find.)

Surprisingly this is only Harris’ second album. When you hear the depth and quality of her songwriting you’ll realise she has a lot to say with a wonderful engaging voice that trills. The aching melodies colour these vignettes perfectly. A berth on the prestigious Thirty Tigers label suggests her opportunity has come. Originating from Waco, Texas, she’s steeped in the great pantheon of singer songwriters from the state; this knowledge informs her songwriting and not least the lyrics that seem seldom to waste a word.

The ten songs here are adapted but autobiographical about her life and demons. There’s a deep dive into her personal troubled history of addiction (The Fair and Dark Haired Lad) and often coping with loss (Fall (Devin’s Song). A further song about death, How Could You Be Gone, is one of two co-writes with Mary Gauthier and this song has already appeared with Gauthier taking the lead on her own 2022 Dark Enough to See The Stars. It’s an unusual take on grief as the narrator wanders around the funeral of a close friend in a distraught state attempting to cope with their bewildering loss and the stultifying demands of the occasion.

The songs are acoustic based with sparse additions of strings or electric band accompaniment. It all creates an intimacy for her confessional story telling. Her title track, Boomerang Town,relates the story of an early life of two young lovers. With her plaintive tones she paints a bleak picture of a grinding and hopeless life in a small town and the overwhelming desire to escape. However, it appears futile to have such an aspiration. I immediately thought of Springsteen’s The River with its protagonists’ early demise and the inevitable life of drudgery preoccupied with existence rather than living. You’re left thinking ‘what might have been’.

Two songs seem to be lighter and let some sunlight into this often-intense listen. Good Morning, My Love has a beautiful tune and as she plays guitar Mark Hallman plays a selection of keys to sweeten the chorus. Love Is Gonna Come Again is an uplifting ballad giving reassurance to the listener that despite their low state then things will get better. Courtney Marie Andrews has recently arrived as an Americana songbird with a considerable gift as a songwriter; I’d now add Harris as a contemporary.

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