Eliza Gilkyson - Hard Times In Babylon

Hard Times In Babylon

Eliza Gilkyson

RHR CD 146

Red House Records
P.O. Box 4044
St. Paul, MN 55104

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Moshe Benarroch

I was lucky to be in Austin in March 1999, (as the featured poet in the Austin International Poetry Festival), having the time of my life listening to more singer-songwriters than I ever had before. I guess the stars were with me back then: One of those stars was Eliza Gilkyson, who performed at the Cactus Cafe with Cliff Eberhardt and Jimmy Lafave. (Now, if I only had a tape...).

There was this woman in her early forties, singing with her high voice, and chilling the audience as if it were the first time she had ever sung there, or the first time anyone had ever heard her. When I first listened to her cd, Hard Times in Babylon, I wondered why the songs sounded so familiar, until I realized I remembered many of them from that special evening in Austin. Gilkyson's songs are immediately catchy, without in any way being the commercial stuff they try to sell us as music these days.

Gilkyson stands somewhere between Chrissie Hynde and Enya, and takes the best of both worlds, new age and rock. She is still a folkie at heart and writes deep songs with unforgettable lines, like:

"Won't you carry me through my soul's dark night
won't you shine my way with your big headlights
won't you lift me up when I shiver and shake
won't you change my luck won't you give me a break"
(from "Engineer Bill")

Many of the songs in this great album deal with loss, and the holes left in us by people who leave us. The production is very clear and very good, and although the promo sheets says this is a minimal production, I still wish there was less. Most of the time I longed for the stripped down versions with vocals and guitar that she sang at the Cactus Cafe in Austin. But then, this is a cd I can listen to again and again, while great memories can change and improve with time. And that is what this cd is about.

A winner. And the best female folk cd of the year.

Track List:

  • Beauty Way
  • Hard Times In Babylon
  • Highway
  • Coast
  • Engineer Bill
  • Persephone
  • Baby's Walking
  • Twisted
  • Flatline In My Dreams
  • Walk Away From Love
  • Sanctuary

Edited by Lindsay Cobb

Copyright 2001, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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