Kim Richey – Self-Titled
The first time I heard Kim Richey’s voice, she was a backing vocalist on Radney Foster’s 1992 solo album Del Rio, TX 1959. It jumped out and stuck with me from the first listen. Considering that “backing vocalist” is a role where proficiency is largely measured by one’s ability to avoid sticking out, it’s a compliment (and an irony) that her voice created such a powerful and lasting impression.
Richey’s self-titled solo debut leaves a lasting impression as well. The rhythmic strains of Tony Harrell’s Vox organ on the opening track, “Those Words We Said”, indicate immediately that this is not just another three-chord, cookie-cutter Nashville offering. The 13 songs, all of which were written or co-written by Richey, cover the familiar ground of love in its various stages (found, fading, crumbling, lost and ultimately found again) and yet manage to avoid being trite. With lyrics that are honest and unpretentious carried by well-crafted melodies and hooks, the songs float beautifully in the gap between pop and country.
Vocally, Richey has a distinctive sound and a versatility that instantly set her apart from her peers. On “Here I Go Again”, she lets out her unique twang in small, artful doses. The sweet, angelic side of her voice is perfectly framed by the lush string arrangement on “Let The Sun Fall Down”. On the tunes with strong pop leanings, Richey sings with impressive power without having to resort to growling or snarling. Regardless of other variables throughout the record, the purity and integrity of her voice remain constant.
This is an honest album without gimmicks that defies easy categorization as either country or pop. It serves as a wonderful display of Richey’s immense talent as both a writer and performer and is one of the most promising debuts out of Nashville this year.