Amy Black - One Time
2011, Reuben Records
Amy Black made her mark in the business world before embarking on a career in music. Her debut album, Amy Black & The Red Clay Rascals was a tribute to Black's favorite songwriters, and earned Black notice for a compelling voice. The voice is back on Amy Black's sophomore album, One Time. This time around, Black penned nine original tunes to show off her distinctive love of storytelling in song.
One Time opens with "Run Johnny", a classic murder song that's surprisingly catchy. Black's sultry voice falls somewhere between Bonnie Raitt and Jeannie C. Riley, with wonderful tone and just a bit of grit in the seams. The tight and catchy arrangement presented here features top-notch instrumental work and shows off Black's presence as a performer. "Whiskey And Wine" is a loved ballad about a doomed affair. Black's gorgeous alto illuminates an exploration of a time when perhaps the pleasure is worth the pain. "Stay" is a fun rockabilly number featuring an assist from Black's sister Corrie Jones. Self-promotion is the name of the game in this soulful story song.
"Molly" is a melancholy ballad that plays like a letter written to a friend. The arrangement and instrumentation here are exquisite. Black mixes honky-tonk and old-school country on "You Ain't Woman Enough (To Take My Man)." This song has hit written all over it; being incredibly catchy, especially for a mid-tempo song. It has one of those choruses you'll find yourself singing along with the first time you hear it. "All My Love" blends blues, country and rock with the addition of some funky guitar work. Black's voice is utterly sensual here, dripping with emotion and charisma. "Meet Me On The Dance Floor" is an upbeat and catchy flirtation in song. Don't be surprised if this is the breakout track of the album.
"I Can't Play This Game" explores the beginning of moving on. Sorrow and regret mix with an unwillingness to be wronged once more in a statement of self. This is a solid album track, but the songwriting is surprisingly subtle and deep for a song of this type. "Words Fail You" is pure country sorrow, complete with the plaintive cries of a pedal steel. Melancholy blends into sorrow over the tragically beautiful melody. One Time closes with "Ain't No Grave (Gonna Hold My Body Down)", giving Johnny Cash a run for his money. Blues, gospel and Americana mix with a swing feel to provide the most dynamic moment on the album. You'll get a glimpse of what Black is live here.
Amy Black, where have you been? One Time shows the presence and professionalism of an artist who's been in the music game much longer than Black has been. Credit producer Lorne Entress (Lori McKenna, Bittertown) and a cast of musicians including Mark Erelli (guitar, vocals, and lap steel) and Stuart Duncan (fiddle) for helping to build a sound around Black that's both classic and fresh. But don't forget to credit Amy Black herself. One Time is destined for a lot of "best of" lists at the end of the year. Performers this fresh and real and yet so polished come along rarely. You'll be glad that Black finally put her musical dreams first.
Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Amy Black at www.amyblack.com or www.myspace.com/amyblackmusic. One Tine is available as a CD or as a download directly from Amy Black's webstore. The album is also available digitally from iTunes.