Stunning album from one of Nashville’s finest story tellers
Matraca Berg is one of those names that have turned up on album sleeve-notes as ‘writer’ rather a lot over the years. The list of singers who have performed her songs is endless, but includes many award-winning country acts. She is actually Grammy nominated too, so it was no real surprise in 2011 when she released her own album, DREAMING FIELDS, even though it came 17 years after its predecessor!
That album received very positive reviews and I (personally) loved it but here we are less than a year after that release and we have yet another album under Ms Berg’s own name.
The only surprise with LOVE’S TRUCK STOP is that I am surprised at how wonderful each individual track is.
If you already know Matraca’s work you will appreciate how she can take the simplest thread of an idea and spin it into a story of epic proportions while still making it personal and believable.
The album opens with the title track Love’s Truck Stop and the hook and pedal steel guitar that weaves in and out will win you over in an instant. This is followed by Her Name Is Mary - a tale of a young waitress who has lived a Hell of a life. The intimate descriptions of the girl and her life will send a shiver down your spine as you pray for her soul.
It’s an age old cliché to say a songwriter paints pictures with words; but that is exactly what Matraca Berg does, with each story playing out inside your head like a Star Wars Video machine. In some cases, like Magdalene - a dark story of a young woman who gets trapped in a world of prostitution - the video will change each time you hear it as you pick up on the tiny details that you missed on the previous listening.
The instrumentation throughout is kept to a bare minimum. Not a note is used without being absolutely necessary to the song, with the words and Matraca Berg’s voice taking front and centre every time.
The album ends with a beautiful but stinging tale of a broken relationship between a child and an alcoholic mother. Fistful of Roses takes you into an area I hope you never have to experience first-hand and Matraca’s delicate handling of this horrendous subject has ‘Award’ written all over it.
The stories here may sound bleak but the delivery is as sharp as a tack and I, for one, can’t wait to hear the follow up – but can’t wait 17 years!
UK release 22nd October
USA release July 2013 (don't know why)