Ten Penny Gypsy’s Fugitive Heart, despite its faithful invocation of traditional Americana, is a thoroughly modern recording. The production is top notch on each of its ten songs and this approach to the material helps frame it in a modern sonic light rather than sounding like music from out of another time. There are such qualities in the music, however – they are understated. There’s no question Ten Penny Gypsy’s songwriting tandem of Justin Patterson and Laura Lynn Danley are working in a way few modern lyricists and musicians take on and they are well-versed with its imagery and traditions. While their music never tries broaching new ground in the art of popular song, Ten Penny Gypsy are intelligent, literate, and imaginative throughout the entirety of their second studio release.
Title songs for album releases promise much. I expect to hear something approaching a definitive musical and songwriting statement for the release, a wide-reaching artistic summation of the album’s theme(s) in a single track. “Fugitive Heart” meets that billing. Exquisite acoustic guitar work fills in the cut with pure and pristine shades of green and yellow and maintains a jaunty bounce despite the maturity of its lyrical content. Ten Penny Gypsy never paint a Pollyanna picture of the world for listeners, but nonetheless the album has an innate optimism that even the most dramatic situations cannot undo.
“Highway 65” is another of the best songs on Fugitive Heart. It has more trappings of the singer/songwriter genre rather than falling into a blues or country mold, but such differences matter little. Regarding their track selection for the album, Ten Penny Gypsy never missteps. There isn’t a single song that sounds out of place and the release unfolds in an organic way. Another jewel on Fugitive Heart is “Mexico Flyer”. The vocal excellence they exhibit on each of these ten songs reaches a zenith with this performance and it lingers in the memory long after it’s over.
The steel guitar heard during the track “Train Won’t Wait for Me” is the crowning touch on what ranks, for me, as one of Fugitive Heart’s greatest songs. It is a song that seems as fragile as fine china and stitched together with unwavering precision. Despite that second quality, however, it never feels overwrought or artificial. “Train Won’t Wait for Me” ransacks the country and blues music genre for its lyrics but, despite its debts to the past, Ten Penny Gypsy produce a track that feels and sounds like a personal statement. The finale “Your True You” is in keeping, both lyrically and musically, with the songs preceding it and the obvious affection and passion you hear in this song, though tempered, makes it an ideal curtain for Fugitive Heart. It is one of the best studio albums from the Americana genre in several years and there’s no indication their creativity will dim anytime soon. Ten Penny Gypsy are built to last and I’m grateful for that in times such as this. Let’s hope they hang around for years to come.
by Mindy McCall, posted by Sebastian Cole