Terri Clark – Roots And Wings (CD Review)
Digital Release – 26 July 2011
Time – 38:25
Label – Hump Head Records © 2011 Bare Track Records
1. Wrecking Ball 2. Breakin’ Up Thing 3. The One 4. Northern Girl 5. Beautiful and Broken
6. Lonesome’s Last Call 7. The Good Was Great 8. Smile 9. We’re Here for a Good Time
10. Flowers in Snow
ROOTS AND WINGS marks Terri Clark’s second self-released and self-produced independent release on BareTrack Records. It has a mainstream, contemporary country sound but also serves up some traditional material. After losing her mother to cancer in 2010, to whom she was very close, Clark taking her advice to stay tethered to her roots has since bought a home in Canada to be around her relations and close friends back in her native country. Terri who has since felt a new sense of freedom, living life to the full after observing her mothers battle and succumbing to the disease said – “My mom too I feel has a set of wings in heaven and looks out after me. And she flew to the next place”. The 10-track album which had a digital release in July 26, 2011 and now a physical one this week on Sept 13, 2011 therefore straddles those two underlying themes.
Clark co-wrote 9 of the tracks which were recorded at studios both in Nashville and Toronto calling on some top-class pickers which include: B.James Lowry (acoustic guitar), Brent Mason (electric guitar), Bryan Sutton (banjo, mandolin and acoustic guitar), Glen Worff (bass), Dan Dugmore (steel), Russ Paul (steel), Steve Nathan (keyboards), Andrea Zonn and Stuart Duncan (fiddle, strings).
With rasping driving guitar and crashing drums the take-your-head-off opener ‘Wrecking Ball’ written with Tia Sillers (I Hope You Dance – Lee Ann Womack) and fellow Canadian singer-songwriter Victoria Banks finds a woman on a mission and nothing is going to get in her way – Look out! Composed just 10 days before finishing the album this rocker finds a wild and untamed woman in demolition-derby-relationship-mode as Terri sings: “No holding me back, no slowing me down / When I want what I want and I want it right now/ On a cast iron chain, headed your way/ You’ll know I ain’t messin’ around/ Cuz I’m a wreckin’ ball”.
The mid-tempo ‘Breakin’ Up Thing’ is one of 4 co-writes with Kristen Hall (founding member of the group Sugarland ) their song camaraderie stemmed from a residence at Clarks Nashville home after the historic floods in May 2010. The songs character who is left spinning and lonely learns the art of break-up from an expert in the field, who, leaves without a sound, no respect and remains unscathed from the experience: “I’m just a diamond in your crown, I could learn a thing or two watching you, Got that breakin’ up thing down”.
On the other excellent Clark/Hall songs the face paced first single ‘Northern Girl’ (see single review) encompasses how Terri feels about her beloved homeland, where she grew up and has now returned to. The soft, rootsy and Celtic flavoured ‘Beautiful and Broken’ tells of an unconditional love after enduring both good and bad times with a partner. Through the carnage and chaos of that relationship they can still call on each other as friends. ‘Flowers in Snow ‘was the first song they crafted for this project and on this magnificent album closer accordion and steel waft like a north wind over a frosty personal liaison. After countless heartaches love is squandered and will never blossom and the couple are at odds to finally admit that to themselves: “And still wonder why it won’t grow, we’re planting flowers in snow”
From its wispy beginning the outstanding ‘The One’ written with Tom Shapiro and Jim Collins slowly builds. With heart-on-my-sleeve-emotion Clark plays the role as a single person who is prepared to wait for as long as it takes for that special someone to enter her life than settle for less despite the social pressures from onlookers – “She must not be lookin’ all that hard, They’ve all got their stories of why I’m still alone, But the only truth that matters is my own” – Despite the lonely nights this lady craves for a love she can’t live without, kisses to burn her lips and a touch so affectionate that will pound her heart down to her fingertips.
The stone-walled weeper ‘Lonesome’s Last Call’ turns back the country clock that’s hung on the barroom wall. Two lonesome souls in their twilight years, one longing to dance, met by chance and re-kindle a love they thought had passed by. With steel and triple fiddle and the additional backing vocals from Sonya Isaccs this waltz with its Hank Williams vibes could have been unearthed from a 1930’s vault. It was in fact written by Clark at the start of the 90’s with Jim Rushing after she had just moved to Music City.
The mid-tempo number ‘The Good Was Great’ penned with Tia Sillers and Ontario recording artist Deric Ruttan with an honest sentiment picks out the juicy bones from a spent relationship remembering those times that brought sweet and fond memories rather than the hurt, slamming of doors and countless goodbyes that left a bad taste in the mouth – “The bad was bad baby, but the good was great”
The deeply touching ballad ‘Smile’ is dedicated by Terri to her best friend and late mother Linda aged 60. Written with Grammy nominated writer Karyn Rochelle (‘Georgia Rain’ and ‘Let The Wind Chase You’- Trisha Yearwood) it tells the tale of childhood memories of first days at school to an 18-year old when Terri driven to the bright lights of Tennessee by her mother was living the dream for her having played folk music in coffeehouses herself. After three long years witnessing her battle Terri sat by her bedside during those painful last days was told by her – “I want you to smile”. Complemented by the crystal harmonies of neighbour Alison Krauss its delicate ambience makes for a standout, heartfelt tearjerker.
The current single and outside track ‘We’re Here for a Good Time’ written by vocalist Ramon McGuire and guitarist Brian Smith is a terrific re-work of their hit which gained a #12 place on the Canadian Singles chart back in 1977 with the band Trooper (YouTube video). This song which made an impression on her growing up perfectly suits Clark’s feel-good side as she puts her own country stamp on it. It sums up her philosophy this last year in that life cannot be taken for granted but enjoyed to the full: We’re here for a good time, Not a long time (not a long time), So have a good time, The sun can’t shine everyday ( Behind the scenes video)
Terri is back to her very best on this outing proving she has both the soulful roots and songs that fly to entertain any audience.
On September 12, 2011 the Alberta-born brunette was once more named Female Vocalist of the Year at the 2011 Canadian Country Music Awards (CCMA’s) in Hamilton. (See Press Release)
CMNI editor Christian Lamitschka interview with Terri – LINK
Livewire (14 Sept 2011)