Where We Live
by Roberta B. Schwartz
Tanya Savory is a performer who is difficult to categorize. She sits across the narrow divide that arbitrarily separates folk from country. Like Mary Chapin Carpenter before her, she writes story songs filled with painterly detail. We know the places she writes and sings about because she possesses a novelist's gift.
Where We Live is Savory's third recording, and her second outing on Philo/Rounder Records. It is not only evident that this woman can sing and write a song, but that she knows how to surround herself with first-rate musicians as well. Claire Lynch provides harmony vocals on several cuts, Jim Hurst contributes guitar, and Missy Raines provides bass along with Savory regulars Kim House on piano, and Nancy Given Gardner on drums.
Savory knows how to marry a lyric to the right melody. Even the most introspective songs possess a positive point of view and an engaging melody. This is true in the opening tune, Bluer, where the singer is growing wistful over the place she used to call home, and is looking longingly to the road which will take her where "the grass is bluer...on the other side."
The title track, Where We Live, addresses how outsiders view the southern place where she lives. It's simpler and slower, and people take their time. The upbeat melody is buoyed by Deanie Richardson's fiddle and Pam Gadd's banjo.Savory imbues a simple song like Carolina with special magic. Of course adding Claire Lynch's harmony to the mix helps. There is beauty in Savory's simple, poetic lyric:
Savory captures the life of a small town in a snapshot of a song called County Fair. Describing how times change and small places become big ones, this lovely tune, with exceptional accompaniment on piano and harmony vocals by Kim House demonstrates Savory's novelistic skills.
There's a host of good songs on Where We Live - every one a treasure; a story that is sure to hold its own over time. That's the key to Savory's writing skills - the tunes and the melodies have a classic, timeless nature to them. And her voice is soothing and familiar, much in the same way that David Wilcox touches us.
Finally, Savory is simply one of those talents whom you seek out on the road again and again, scratching your head, wondering why hers is not a better-known name. She's one of the best songwriters I know. Make it a mission to find her music. Your life will be richer for the experience.
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