Portrait of a Cowgirl
Red Truck International Records
Just Add Beer For The Perfect Saturday Night.
Although she looks young enough to be my Granddaughter this is Canadian Country singer Eli Barsi’s 13th album…..13!!!
The bright red album cover and intriguing title Portrait of a Cowgirl immediately caught my attention and in spite of a huge pile of albums by much more well known artists, I slipped this into the CD Player and the sweet banjo/guitar intro had me smiling even before Eli’s honey sweet voice seeped out of the speakers on a cracker of a Country song called Farm Girl; as she sings about living in the city but always being a Farm Girl at heart; and more power to her pen for her downright wholesome lyrics.
As I’d not heard of Eli before and the CD arrived without a Press Release I just listened to each ensuing song on their own merits for a change; and not only did songs like I See You Everywhere and the delightful Wild Flowers For Me have me smiling at every line, they had and still have me wondering how Canadians manage to make timeless Country Music 10x better than anyone I can think of in Nashville or Austin these days.
Obviously after a dozen previous records Eli knows how to construct an album and the balance of ballads and Honky Tonkin’ dance tunes is very nearly perfect by the way.
In her own way, to paraphrase The Blues Brothers Eli Barsi gives us a collection of both Country AND Western songs here, with Prairie Skies and Country Music Was Made For Saturday Night being straight from the Hotclub of Cowtown play book; yet the duet with Brett Kissel, A Real Partner, is the sort of modern Country song you would expect Rayna and Deacon to sing on the Nashville TV series.
The Western theme is probably at its best on God Only Knows when the singer delves into Patsy Cline or possibly even Doris Day territory on a tale of the lonely life of a Cowboy’s wife in a way I haven’t heard in decades; and sometimes miss.
As regular readers will know Mrs. Magpie is a big Country fan, so this album is right up her street and she very quickly made it clear that the title track Portrait Of a Cowgirl was her personal favourite track; but for me (and she very nearly agreed for once!) it has to be the slightly tongue in cheek Big Hat, No Cattle as it has a great sing-along tune and must be a show-stopper when played live as Eli puts the ‘Plastic Cowboy’ firmly in his place with some viperish put downs.
This is another one of those rare ‘finds’ that keeps me writing reviews, as Bless her; Eli Barsi certainly isn’t trying to compete with Adele or The Coldplays in the pretentious stakes; she just makes classy Country music for people to enjoy and not worry about what she means in-between the lines; and boy oh boy does she succeed!
Released February 2016