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Music Review - `Oh America` by Nellie Clay (lz)

Nellie Clay -- Oh America   (click on image to watch video)

 8 March 2021



Nellie Clay comes about her musical roots quite naturally. A native of Western Oklahoma — birthplace of  America’s most essential folk troubadour, Woody Guthrie — she ploughs a rootsy  terrain that’s well in keeping an honest heartland persona. After a pair of albums (Born Too Late and Never Did What I Shoulda Done) and two EPs (We Got Songs To Sing and Long Sunsets), her new six song set, decidedly titled Oh America, maintains a freewheeling finesse that consisting allows for what appears to be a seemingly effortless embrace. 

That’s evident immediately at the outset with opening track “Small Town Queen,” the tale of an everyday girl who harbors greater ambitions that her rural environs can ever provide That same spirit of downcast determination is evident in the song that follows, “If I Could Paint You a Picture,” a lilting lament that finds Clay sharing both heart and happenstance with equal determination.

“Good Women” boasts a decidedly darker demeanor, and while she offers encouragement to others who have undergone harrowing circumstance, she seems to be sharing her own scenarios as well. “I know in my heart I have something to say,” she sings prior to insisting, “I’m gonna get down and turn this around.” “Kind Love,” on the other hand takes more of a ramshackle approach, courtesy of the steady pluck of acoustic guitars, banjo and its ragged rhythms.

Nevertheless, it’s the title track that finds the emotional core of the album. Beginning with the hushed, hallowed sound of “Taps,” the traditional requiem to the fallen, it’s both a tribute to those who have helped further this nation’s nobler purpose and also a reflection on the work that’ yet to be done. That then leads into the EP’s closing coda, the fittingly-titled “Long Sunset,” a most intimate ode that sums up the distance and divide that’s riddled our lives lately. Sounding like a forgotten gem by Hank Williams (think his classic “Lost Highway”), it defines what it means to seek limitless opportunity unfettered by confines or concerns. 

Like the country celebrated by its title, Oh America is a precious piece of work, an example of pure emotion, insight and sensitivity. These are indeed sentiments worth savoring.


 Lee Zimmerman


Lee Zimmerman

To Read All of Lee's Reviews, Click Here


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