Drawing from past experience for songwriting has been a regular move for many musicians including Eliza Gilkyson. After all, she has a rich resource to draw upon, especially from her father, Terry, who was such a songwriter of note. So, it was always on the cards that she would devote a whole album to using musical styles from times gone by.
‘Songs From The River Wind’ is that album as she surrounds herself with a group of musicians in the same way that her father did with his 1950s folk group, The Easy Riders. Led by Don Richmond who also acts as producer on this recording, The Rifters with Rod Taylor and Jim Bradley provide backing vocals that help to give the album its core old west feel. That sound is consolidated around Richmond’s multi-instrumental work plus an impeccable selection of musicians making their empathetic contributions.
Having relocated from Austin to the northern mountains of New Mexico, this collection of songs is a mixture of self penned material and covers of songs that recall the landscapes that Gilkyson calls home. Opening with her interpretation of the traditional song ‘Wanderin” is an apt choice with its tale of restlessness before she charts her own path with songs like ‘The Hill Behind This Town’, ‘Bristlecone Pine’ from Hugh Prestwood, ‘Before The Great River Was Tamed’ composed by The Rifters and ‘At The Foot Of The Mountain’. The latter being a co-composition from Gilkyson with John Gorka.
As she wanders, there’s a recollection of characters met along the way like the tracker ‘Charlie Moore’ and the passing love in ‘Wind River And You’. These songs capture human contacts that got locked into her memory and, here, culminate in the outstanding love song, ‘Don’t Stop Lovin’ Me’. The curtain comes down on this album in appropriate manner with an old timey interpretation of a traditional square dance tune, ‘CM Schottische’, recalled from a time in her childhood spent in Wyoming.
This album is, in many ways, a love letter to home. The exquisite arrangements and delivery express a tenderness for the subject that’s hard to beat. Not only is Gilkyson considering the search for love but also a home where she finds herself at ease and most comfortable. The net result for the listener to ‘Songs From The River Wind’ is an album whose gentle but deep feelings for the old west and its inhabitants is uplifting and soothing at the same time.