With regards to the Americana and retro country scenes in the underground at the moment, there hasn’t been nearly as much airy melodicism as you’d think there would be given all of the interest in revivals lately – that said, I think Kimberly Morgan York has noticed this, and it’s evident in her new album Keep On Goin’. Rather than trying to make a rigid post-Nashville country record in this LP, York is exploring the depths of melodic Americana and alternative songcraft as it fits into pastoral lyrical themes, with the results of her experimentation delivering what could be some of the brightest bucolic masterpieces I’ve had the pleasure of listening to from an artist outside of the mainstream market right now.
There’s absolutely nothing mechanical to be found within the rhythm of “Kick Us,” “Three Chances,” “Numb,” and “Sharing the Night Together,” but instead a connectivity between tempo and lyricism that is almost haunting when you listen to it for the very first time. York has a very relaxed energy to her delivery in all of this material, but when she’s stringing together something with a lot of emotion on the backend, it’s all the more obvious that she’s investing a good part of her soul in this medium. Keep On Goin’ references perseverance quite significantly, but it fails to venture down an avenue of regret that a lot of reflective albums of this nature tend to – although rightly so, I might add. This singer/songwriter isn’t into doomer themes, and that’s clear right off the bat here.
Exotic harmonies protrude from beneath an otherwise stock framework for “Fallen,” “Love Songs,” the title track in Keep On Goin’, and “Ruby,” and while they’re essentially coming out of nowhere to take over the tonal narrative of these four songs, this doesn’t work against the poetic value of the lyrics at all. On the contrary, I like the way the sonic value of the music benefits the stories that York is looking to tell in the songs, and there’s scarcely a moment in tracks like “Three Choices” or “Another Lover” in which it sounds like we’re listening to someone who doesn’t know how to bring together even the more eclectic themes in her music to create something whole and complete.
Keep On Goin’ is more than a big record for Kimberly Morgan York; it’s a monumental moment for her career, and it’s representative of a talent that has become quite difficult to come by over the past few years within her scene. This isn’t someone trying to create niche country or even reject the mainstream for the sake of doing something no one else is; York is chasing her own place in the hierarchy of independent Americana players, and it’s through her fusion of influences and stylistic development that we’re going to find out what makes her so unique in comparison to the scores of players essentially trying to make something along the lines of what Keep On Goin’ is – with much weaker results, of course.