When you read Eliza Meyer’s bio, one of the first things that catches your attention is that she is a junior in high school. You don’t have to listen to a lot of her debut album Hello Stranger to know that she isn’t a typical high school junior. Not many people her age are recording albums of traditional Americana and classic country songs.
She kicks the album off with the title track, which was written by A. P. Carter and recorded by The Carter Family. This duet with Sam Gleaves features just acoustic guitar and vocals and has an old-time feel that is fitting considering how long ago the song was written. The two harmonize beautifully and do a fine job with this classic.
“Workin’ Girl Blues” has a bluegrass feel with the banjo, upright bass, and fiddle. In a voice similar to Natalie Maines, Meyer does a bit of yodeling at the beginning of the chorus to give it even more of an old-time feel. The second verse contains a familiar story for anyone that has ever held a job. Namely, the boss promises that a raise is on the way while the employee wonders if that raise will come before he or she reaches old age.
“When I Stop Dreaming”, written by The Louvin Brothers, is a heartbreaker of a song. It features mandolin, bass, Dobro and harmony vocals by Alice Gerrard. Meyer conveys the ache of the Louvin Brothers lyrics and leaves you feeling like you’ve just been punched in the gut – in the best way possible. It is one of two ache-filled songs with the theme of dreaming. The other is “Send Me the Pillow that You Dream On,” written by Hank Locklin. This one is a jazzy song with bass, fiddle, and Liam Purcell playing guitar. It’s hard not to be moved by this wistful plea for a connection with another person – even if it’s something as simple as being able to dream on the same pillow as that person.
Like a lot of bluegrass artists, Meyer taps into some gospel with a version of “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”. This feels like an old-time bluegrass songs where all the performers sing around one microphone. You don’t have to be particularly religious to appreciate the beauty of this song.
The song selection on this album is great. Meyer shows that although she is young, she is perfectly capable of great performances of traditional songs. With her voice and her ability to harmonize, she shows more than anything that this is a good start for an artist who promises to be around for a long time. Hello Stranger will be available everywhere on January 31. Order your copy here.