Katy Boyd not only has a genuine way with an authentic blend of folk and country but also an almost startlingly perceptive hand with tersely evocative lyrics:
What is love, it is a passing cloud
…a way of packing a lot of imagery into a handful of words, almost haiku—if, that is, Dogen and Basho were the cowboy boot wearin' sort—so much so that you could teach a poetry class on it all. Like Tom Waits, she takes a hard-line on everyday life, finding in it desire, pathos, nobility, and the innumerable perplexities of, God help us, being human.
Think you've heard enough of Blind Faith's Can't Find my My Way Home? Think again. Boyd turns it around so that you'll end up wondering if Steve Winwood hadn't originally written it for Emmylou Harris. There's a touch of Kim Carnes in Boyd's voice, and it comes out most nakedly here. Her band borrows from Ricky Skaggs' and Delbert McClinton's units, and these guys know exactly how to underwrite the singer's tones and emotions, especially Fats Kaplin's 'hippy steel', a divinely weepy sound that makes the soul rise more than a little as Boyd encants tales of heartache, illusions lost, and pensivity upon the conundrums of drawing breath while treading the Earth.
Paper Hearts is a moody affair, turning, as Boyd is so adept at, that normally flowery phrase on its head. The ghost of Janis Ian's high period floats through her work:
I ain't depressed now, I'm suicidal
…and, like Ian's materials, the CD is surprisingly easy to listen to despite some unhedgingly morose wordsmithing. I think this disc is going to force its listeners to re-arrange a few of their pre-conceptions and look a little more closely at just how uncompromisingly art can elicit re-inspections of frames of reference and clichéd views about 'how things are'.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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