Kirby Heard – Ripples In The Wake
Somewhat old-school folk singer with a gentle approach that will remind one of early Cris Williamson, Mimi Farina, Kate Wolf, Meg Christian, the less-wordy Ferron & Mary Chapin Carpenter. Kirby has a delightful narrator’s voice with her well-thought-out songs. “Somebody’s Someone,” is an impressive tune. In a somewhat eclectic collection, the melodies are always warm, non-confrontational, & touching upon many subjects & concerns with good technique.
But it’s her well-nurtured vocals — while not as bright as early Judy Collins, Kirby does sing with that same baked bread, honey in the jar & wildflower expressiveness as Ms. Collins. Wonderful music to listen to early in the morning. Comforting, reassuring & while others may sing the praises of whiskey Ms. Heard is closer to jasmine tea, ruby red wine & hot chocolate moments.
“Sweet Days of Summer,” is a touching tune expressed sincerely by Kirby’s well-defined voice. There’s wisdom in her tone, fields & open skies, there are seasons in her songs & there are topics she explores that few pop singers today even approach. Kirby reflects beautifully, draws upon memories & reminisces. Puts it all into her songs with just the right words.
While this set won’t always get into your toes to dance (unless you’re listening to her “That’s What Makes a Bluegrass Song”) & make your head bop back & forth in your lounge chair it will get into your ears, into your pores & eventually your heart (if you have one).
Recorded in Chapel Hill, NC & produced by Jon Shain (guitars/acoustic & Resonator/mandolin/harmony) the 45-minute, 14-song CD Ripples In The Wake (Drops Oct 14–Independent) is meant to make you forget your troubles & the world’s issues & take stock of what’s still good in this world. Ms. Heard’s vocals are uplifting & her original songs are all backed up by a first-class band of inspired musicians.
Fortunately, Kirby doesn’t perform anything heavy-handed though she doesn’t shy away from message songs (“Halfway There”). But she isn’t trying to stir up any Joan Baez coals. She doesn’t drive her songs with any political agenda or anger. Not to a noticeable degree.
There’s more romance in Kirby’s focus (“Under the Maple Tree”) which is Joni Mitchell-shaped with a touch of Euro-melody & done superbly. Joining Kirby (6-12 string guitars) are Kaitlin Grady (cello), Laurelyn Dossett, Barry Gray (harmony vocals), Bob Hight (mandolin), FJ Ventre (percussion/upright bass/piano/bass), Alice Hasen & Joseph Decosimo (fiddle), Julie Elkins (banjo/harmony) & Bill Newton (harmonica).
Highlights – “Angel Wings,” the acapella “I Was Never a Child,” “Somebody’s Someone,” “Sweet Days of Summer,” (“That’s What Makes) A Bluegrass Song,” “Under the Maple Tree,” & “Maggie’s Song.”
Enjoy our previous coverage here: Song Premiere: Kirby Heard “Angel Wings”