Eliza Gilkyson has had a long and illustrious career resulting in a fine catalogue of songs and awards that reflect the admiration of her peers. Her last album, ‘Songs From The River Wind’, took its inspiration from her homeland surroundings in and beyond New Mexico as well as the trio format of The Easy Riders. The latter being a 1950s folk group formed by her father, Terry, before he became a staff songwriter at the Walt Disney studios. The craft of songwriting is one that runs in the Gilkyson family blood, you see.
This time out, on ‘Home’, she has Don Richmond alongside as multi-instrumentalist and co-producer. Richmond had a similar role as a member of the collaborating Rifters trio who contributed to ‘Songs From The River Wind’. However, they are joined by a wider range of musicians for ‘Home’. It’s a collection of songs that has largely bubbled up from the confinement of the pandemic lockdown and other events that have created turmoil in the world.
That’s not to say the album is downbeat in its mood. Indeed, ‘World Keeps On Singing’ offers a hopeful and upbeat vision as communities come together and look forward. That vision turns reflective on ‘How Deep’ as she duets wonderfully with Robert Earl Keen to probe those questions we ask ourselves when a relationship is sadly ended. Another of her peers providing a duet partner is longtime friend Mary Chaplin Carpenter who pops up on ‘Sparrow’. A song about the progression of composition from the personal creative process of songwriting to the release into the listening world when songs take on a life of their own.
As ever, harmonising vocals add to the lushness of her music. Whether on the plaintiff love song, ‘Witness’, where brother Tony Gilkyson (X, Lone Justice) adds some soulful guitar work, or, ‘Sunflowers’ where a yearning for a simple and safe life comes to the fore in times of war. Whilst such tracks are gentle and almost understated, there’s no lack of punch or variety on ‘Home’. Take the bluesy gospel of ‘Safety Zone’ as an example. Even more dramatically, the discordant contribution of piano and accordion by Van Dyke Parks to the epic ‘Man In The Bottle’ provides an unforgettable cameo for this song about Terry Gilkyson. Joining together, as it does, her lyrics with some of those from her father’s own songwriting in something of a centrepiece for the album.
In a typically modest and thoughtful approach, she has chosen to close the album with a title track from the pen of another songwriter, Karla Bonoff. Its lyrical content being perfect for a record that focuses on the support of family, friends and home. An expert in channeling a range of emotion through her songs, Eliza Gilkyson has turned out another musical gem with her ‘Home’ album.