Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

GRACE ASKEW

Grace Askew & The Black Market Goods

2011-09-14

Nick's Picks: 01 Jupe, 03 Been Broken Too, 09 Howl

FCC ALERT: "Squeaky Clean"

Review by Steven "Nick" Nickelson of Grace Askew Grace Askew & The Black Market Goods

The sultry-voiced Grace Askew has one of the sexiest voices I have heard in a long time, and the songwriting is definitely of the award-winning ilk. This is how I opened my previous review of Grace Askews inaugural LP. I still stick with my assessment. At the time I felt her songwriting skills were a cut above most songwriters output; however, I feel that this sophmore release may have been a tad rushed. Most songs still showcase her songwriting acumen ("Tennessee Got The Best of Me", "Been Broken Too"), but a couple just didn't seem to be up to her usual standards ("Uh Huh Huh" sounds suspiciously like "Ode To Billie Joe", "Go My Way" just seems to be filler), Granted, there are still some moments of brilliance, as in the segue into a tejano-flavored, haunting melody ("Jupe" - complete with Spanish verbage), as well as some truly inspired playing by her band members("Before It Dies"). After listening a few hours to this most recent release by a very talented songwriter and an equally talented backup band, I still stick by my earlier assessment - get her more national exposure, and she should be able to take it from there. The only fly in the ointment is how to categorize her music. I mean, one track she is singing in a lazy, bluesytempo ("Midtown"), and the next she might take the role of a torch singer ("Bullseye Baby"), to a melodic, haunting red dirt girl singing a sad country song ("Howl"). Whatever genre she takes on, though, she seems to own it. And that's my two nickels' worth.............................Nick

ARTIST BIO: "Sultry, atmospheric singer-songwriter Grace Askew is a striking presence on the local scene as something of a bluesier answer to Cat Power, and a female version of Tom Waits, whom she counts as key influences." - Elizabeth Cawein, Memphis Music Foundation Based out of Memphis, Tennessee, Askew has substantially established herself throughout the Southeast, United States, and has organized and promoted her own small tours since her teens. She now continues to serve as her own agent on a grander scale, booking her shows and traveling vigorously throughout the U.S., spanning tours as far West as Santa Fe, New Mexico, as far North as Chicago, IL and as far East as Asheville, NC. Back home in Memphis, Grace plays a slew of steady gigs with her abundantly talented accompanying 5-piece group, The Black Market Goods, made up of all prominent musical figures in the local scene. National singer-songwriter festivals have also kept her prominently placed in a tight circle of renowned regional writers who have served not only as mentors, but also as staunch patrons of her talent; including Keith Sykes (co-writer of the popular "Volcano" with Jimmy Buffet and "I''m Not Strange, I'm Just Like You" recorded by Jerry Jeff Walker), Grammy Award winning writer Richard Leigh, and Austin, Texas' Larry Joe Taylor, host of the largest privately owned music festival in the South. Grace has released two EP’s (Wasted Lipstick, Hawthorne) under renowned produced (sic) Pete Matthews, both of which were recorded at Memphis’ famed Ardent Studios. Her third and newest release 'Until They Lay Me Down to Rest'' is the first full-length album to be solely produced and written by Askew. The bulk of the album was recorded by Memphis musical veteran Richard Ford, who is also featured on several tracks playing such various instruments as banjo, lap & pedal steel guitars, and a mandolin offshoot- the 'jangletron'. Whether stirred by the moaning of a distant freight train, the barking dog across the street, or the whoosh of a car passing by on a rainy Memphis night, the intimacy and rawness of the recordings takes you right into the room with Grace and gives you a pure, powerful reach into the heart & mind behind each and every composition. A select few tracks were also recorded in nearby Oxford, Mississippi at acclaimed Tweed Studios includes her entire ensemble of accompanists, in addition to the sound engineering of studio proprietor Andrew Ratcliffe. (Mastering done by Kevin Cubbins and Jeffrey Reed).

The Black Market Goods:

・ Grace Askew – lead and background vocals, rhythm guitar

・ Jesse Williams – drums, percussion

・ JD Westmoreland – bass guitar

・ Logan Hanna – lead guitar

・ Richard Ford – pedal steel/lap steel

The Songs:

Jupe

Tennessee Got The Best Of Me

Been Broken Too

Go My Way

Before It Dies

I Remember

Midtown

Bullseye Baby

Howl

The Road

Uh Huh Huh (f. David Coen)

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

The opinions expressed in these reviews are those of the individual volunteers that submitted the article and do not necessarily reflect the views of WYCE or GRCMC; nor its staff, donors, or affiliates.