Liane Edwards – Raisin’ Dust

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The twelve songs on Liane Edwards’ seventh album Raisin’ Dust are all original and the product of a life spent living out her emotions in front of paying crowds from coast to coast and simply the vagaries of living. The musicality of the release is greatly enhanced by the contributions of guitarist Brian Wooten, longtime member of Trace Adkins’ band, but it’s equally clear that Edwards is working at or near the summit of her abilities. Some artists start to show signs of wear and tear much earlier this; their limited talents lapse into repetition and the fires that set their careers off to such auspicious beginnings dim down to much more diminutive flames. There’s no sign of that with Edwards. Raisin’ Dust features a dozen tracks that reach far beyond simply standing pat and benefits from polished production highlights the songs best qualities.

Edwards kicks off Raisin’ Dust with one of its most substantive and commercially minded songs. “Rainy Day” doesn’t exactly till new ground with its subject matter, but Edwards brings tremendous charisma and melodic gifts she brings to bear on each song, but the stronger material here elicits an even more emphatic performance than the other fine efforts. The lightly strummed guitars and relaxed piano playing propelling “Give It a Try” makes this sprightly shuffle really go. Edwards delivers an interesting performance illustrative of her gifts – it’s truly compelling to hear how well she balances a nearly ethereal melodic feel with enough gravitas to keep her performances tethered to earth. It’s equally impressive how her songs breathe so free and easy. “Hush” has a brief introduction followed by an airy, slightly restrained shuffle that stands out from similarly arranged efforts on the album. This is closer to the traditional classic country ballad and Edwards has a real penchant for this sort of tune that comes out again later on Raisin’ Dust.

“Drive” certainly has a lot of that. This song hits the ground running and its rockabilly leanings work quite well in tandem with Edwards’ voice. She sings many of the album’s tracks with an amiable exuberance that never cheapens their emotions, but also infuses them with an infectious energy level. There’s a artfully played blues color filling the song “Borrowed Time” and a nicely tuned sense of dynamics that makes this song really take off. Edwards shows the same effective approach here that we hear on other songs, but she shows a real talent for bringing lyrical narratives to life. Her stylish tendencies come out more with the surprising jazz influences we hear on “Gypsy Bone” and she really sinks her teeth into its irresistible musical step. Raisin’ Dust has a wide variety to its approach – Liane Edwards isn’t the sort of musical artist content to pursue one musical path – her loves are far more vast. The playful bounce of the aforementioned track, the acoustic delicacy of “Beautiful Thing”, these are samplings of the different strands of Liane Edwards’ musical DNA. She shows another strand with her performance of the song “Cowgirl” – it’s throw your hands in the air, kick out the footlights fare and makes no apologies for its spirited demeanor. It’s, by far, the rockiest track on Raisin’ Dust and comes at a great place in the track listing. It’s this variety that makes Raisin’ Dust one of 2017’s most formidable releases in the country genre.

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Scott Wigley