Debra Lyn – Ashes
While Debra Lyn is still fully embedded in the rich soil of rootsy music this outing seems a little more glossed over with an Americana-funk perceptive on the title track “Ashes,” that’s equally soulful. The award-winning Nashville-based singer-songwriter has lost none of her creativity as she explores the outer reaches of a basically country-fried authenticity. This time out Debra Lyn conveys artistically the well-savored style that is her warm-hearted persona.
A little Dolly Parton purity comes through but never as an intrusion to Debra Lyn’s own musical assimilation. Debra Lyn never pours on the country honey too heavily. Hailing from upstate New York she has a restraint that benefits her. “Wing And a Prayer,” while innocently cliched in title alone has a determined Spanish-flavored melody. It’s a well-sung ballad with an engaging arrangement.
The 9-track, 34-minute Ashes (Drops Aug 30–Palette Records) is her 6th & produced by Jeff Silverman (keyboards/bass/baritone acoustic guitar/electric guitar/drums/bgv/Sound Design) in Tennessee. The musicianship, as always, is pristine. The Parton reference is more in phrasing than tonality. Debra Lyn rocks a little harder than Dolly but her lyrical pronunciation at times is mindful of Ms. Parton with a touch of Reba McIntyre gusto (“Hell Must’a Sent You” & “Close By”).
Debra Lyn (lead & bgv) explores typical country topics through richly conceived storytelling – human experiences, themes of love, homelessness, animal cruelty, emotionally charged loss & resilience. And like many artists, she draws upon her own experiences to flesh out the drama with energy. Musically the distillation comes through traditional country, bluegrass & folk but Debra Lyn manages to do what some artists don’t – add personality into the mix. Through that one element a more authentic, genuine & sincere delivery waxes the tunes. Her intonation & phrasing throughout these tunes is exceptional.
The CD boasts Dolby Atmos Spatial Sound & judging from how it sounds from my Klipsch speakers it is quite immersive. Some tunes like “Stranded” are written in a more progressive country sensibility. Similar to the late Nanci Griffith. With the tune “I Don’t Know How To Love You,” the Parton comparisons fall away & Debra Lyn surfaces with a more self-exclusive soulful & rootsy ballad confluence. That was a mouthful. But true.
This is the authentic Debra Lyn sound – a little of the cool 60s girl group vocals mixed with modern-day Hothouse Americana. I guess that’s essentially what a hot fudge sundae is. I’ll have another.
Highlights – “Ashes,” “Wing and a Prayer,” “Brown Dog,” “Hell Must’a Sent You,” “Close By” “I Don’t Know How To Love You” & “Stranded.”
Musicians – TJ Klay (harmonica), Kim Fleming (bgv), Matthew Burgess & Andy Hull (drums/percussion/hand drums), David Flint (acoustic guitars/electric guitars/Bouzouki/Dobro), Tim Lorsch (strings) & Mike Johnson (steel guitar).
Color image courtesy of Debra Lyn’s website. The CDs/digital copies are available with music samples of “Ashes” @ https://debralyn.com/product/ashes-dolby-atmos-spatial-audio/