album reviews

Kim Richey
Wreck Your Wheels
Thirty One Tigers (2010)

Kindred spirits: Mary Chapin Carpenter, Patty Griffin, Shawn Colvin

Folk singer-songwriter Kim Richey is in a contemplative mood on "Wreck Your Wheels," her sixth album. That meditative sound suits her voice and songs well. Her dreamy vocals sound effortless as she ponders relationships and times gone by.

The album features a long list of collaborators and additional instruments (including strings, organ, bouzouki and flugelhorn), but even with such rich arrangements, Richey's songs still feel laid-back and unforced. Lilting trumpet accents add a wistful tone that mirrors the harmonies and humming on "In the Years to Come." A glockenspiel gives an angelic ringing to "Back to You," and a pedal steel brings a twangy feel to the title track.

Although the reflective mood is certainly evocative, not all the efforts of Richey's co-writers succeed. The verses on "Keys" are bristlingly literal, and even the metaphorical interlude can't erase some of the clunky rhymes early in the song ("pocket"/"lock it"). Still, even that stumble is easily forgotten with the album's very next track, "When the Circus Comes to Town," which finds Richey almost purring in her delightfully sultry lower register.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 1 October 2010
.: Wreck Your Wheels on