REVIEW: Libby Koch’s “Redemption 10” is Standout Moments a Decade Later

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You probably find that your favorite songs affect you differently as they (and, let’s be honest, YOU) age. Certain lyrics jump out at you, while others may fade, and you’ll notice new musical intricacies. In your mind, the songs evolve. The same thing happens to the artists who write those songs. 10 years ago, a young Texas attorney recorded her first – and what she thought would surely be her only – record, Redemption. A decade (and four more albums) later, Libby Koch decided to re-record that first release. Instead of the spare, guitar and harmonica-tinged arrangements she initially recorded, Koch brought in a full band and sparked up the ten-year-old tunes. The result is Redemption 10: Live at Blue Rock.

The first track, “Houston,” serves as a farewell to a town (Nashville), a guy and a lifestyle: “Goodbye to neon lights and long, rowdy nights.” The crack set of Austin musicians recruited for the project has its first standout moment here with a steel-fiddle trade-off. Patterson Barrett, who co-produced the album, has a nifty little key fill in “Can’t Complain,” where Koch sings of the rare successful divorce in country music: “There’s one thing I’ll say about my mom and dad/They loved us so much that it wasn’t that bad.”

There are more than a few sad Texas-type love songs on the album, and, considering that they were written by someone who was fresh out of law school, they hold up surprisingly well for someone who’s gained ten years of wisdom. Koch’s songwriting maturity particularly shines on “Stay With Me,” a tune about that one person you pin your hopes on. It features one of my favorite lines of the year: “I can’t seem to shake the certainty of you.” “Redemption,” based around acoustic guitar and fiddle, is another song about feeling that she may have left the wrong guy. Interestingly, as Koch has grown and changed, she realized that the meaning of this song changed, too: “It was written for someone who I now know never really loved me back. Now I sing it for someone who really deserves these words.”

Redemption 10 was recorded live at Blue Rock Artist Ranch and Studio, a recording studio and performance space in the Texas Hill Country. A small group of fans had the opportunity to attend the recording, and the intimacy and familiarity makes the album a hell of a lot of fun. “Down” best exemplifies this feeling and the reimagined sound of the album. Instead of a sad acoustic tune, Barrett convinced Koch to make the new version a piano-driven boogie that rocks the small crowd with Koch’s choice of a bar over more reputable destinations – “I’d go down to the church/Just don’t think that I could pray.” The band rips off a fantastic threesome of solos – fiddle to piano to guitar, and Koch and the crowd revel in the moment. Later, the album closes with a Johnny Cash cover, “I Still MIss Someone,” which, true to the theme of the reimagined Redemption, ditches mournfulness for a mix of fun and sweet.

Redemption 10: Live at Blue Rock was produced by Barrett and Koch, engineered by Patrick Conway, mixed by Barrett and mastered by Jerry Tubb. All songs (with the exception of “I Still Miss Someone”) were written by Koch. Musicians on the album include Koch (acoustic guitar, harmonica), Barrett (piano, organ, pedal steel, mandolin, vocals), Bill Browder (guitar, vocals), Eddie Cantu (drums), Javier Chaparro (violin), and Glenn Scuhetz (bass).

You can order Redemption 10 here: https://libbykoch.com/music

Go here to see Libby Koch live: https://libbykoch.com/tour

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