Valley of the Bones
Even More Well Crafted Scrumptious, Thoughtful and Deeply Personal Songs.
When we reviewed Jane Kramer’s last album Carnival Of Hopes we said ”
Scrumptious, Thoughtful and Deeply Personal Songs ” and I’m pleased to say not a lot has changed in the interim; apart from Jane seems a lot more comfortable in her deliciously distinctive voice.
With my background I tend to fear songs called Hymn; but the first line of this opening track
“My hippy Mamma didn’t make me go to church
So I found God in the fireflies and digging in the dirt“
soon put me at ease; but then again Chris Rosser’s gentle guitar playing and dreamy harmonies were always meant to do that anyways on this song of a woman finding her inner strength in a cruel world. *Apparently this song was meant as a ‘homework assignment from Mary Gauthier!
When I finally got to read the Press Release, I found (as usual) that an awful lot of hard work, involving an awful lot of people helped make these songs all sound incredibly gentle and relaxing; although when you scratch the surface…… darkness often lurks beneath.
With Summer on the horizon; Jane Kramer’s delightful songs full of wit and wisdom on a wide ranging collection of subjects with all being smart and very well constructed; but some are actually highly addictive.
In the smart Soap Opera, Macon County, Jane takes on the role of the narrator who has to return to her home town; for reasons unknown and the way her relationship with Joseph ‘with the kind eyes’ gently develops until ‘she puts lipstick on/in case I smile’ is rather beautiful in a cracked way; and the chorus “Macon County, I ain’t letting you drown me” will break your heart.
It’s a brave man who will compare a songwriter on only her third album as the equal of legends like Mary Chapin Carpenter, Lucinda Williams, Nanci Griffith and the afore mentioned Mary Gauthier; but that is the case here, with songs as complex as Two Broke Kids, Valley of the Bones and especially I’ll See Your Crazy and Raise Mine; which is as good a Country song as Loretta or Reba ever recorded and if Dolly ever hears it, expect her t base a whole album around it!.
Then; there is even one song here that will tear your heart apart; it’s unbelievable the sheer anguish and bravery that Kramer fills Child with, yet it still remains completely accessible especially any parent, who when they hear it will find tears running down their cheeks and they won’t know how to stop them; but won’t care.
As someone without a musical bone in their body (is the ear a bone? I don’t think so) I love it when songwriters sing about ‘life on the road’…… and in this case Jane Kramer’s Singin’s Enough manages to stay sad enough to engage us; while still romanticising “singing her Folk Songs in a bar while the College Boys shout out for Freebird!”
To some greater or lesser degree Jane Kramer takes us on a right royal emotional roller coaster ride here; and while I was tempted to go for the insightful Wedding Vows as my Favourite Track; and it would be well deserved; but then I listened a bit more intently to the jaunty and clever Waffle House Song (the title alone should lull you in….. but that’s a ‘false sent of security…. trust me; this is a powerful song!) then I’ve been drawn back to a song that made me smile as I kept having to take deep breaths the first time I really listened to it.
Saint Carrie of the Storms is an astute and sharp-witted tale of sibling rivalry that you don’t understand or appreciate until it’s (almost) too late; which is all part of growing up, isn’t it? Jane Kramer manages to make her personal story feel like it could be about me and my brothers or you and your sister; clever that.
Jane Kramer has been singing and songwriting for twenty years now; and that apprenticeship has surely blossomed with the intricately clever and fascinating songs on Valley of the Bones, which transcend the Folk and Country genres and make this a real Singer-Songwriter album.