ROBIN LANE – Dirt Road To Heaven

Red On Red 2022

Veteran of rustic delights searches for celestial highs while keeping her light feet attached to the ground.

Dirt Road To Heaven

Americana is too broad a genre to embrace its entire spectrum within a single album’s borders, but some lesser artists attempt to do so – only Robin Lane is too experienced and discerning a performer to not know there are routes around the impossible, so that’s what she’s doing here: even the title of “Dirt Road To Heaven” seems to suggest so. And how could the lady not know this if she sang harmony with Neil Young on “Round And Round” from “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” – the fact which should show her skills for navigating moods as well as the fact of her “When Things Go Wrong” having been the eleventh video to play upon MTV’s launch? Still, the thoroughfare the platter’s sultry, yet righteously tired, titular opener actually refers to will go a long way towards explaining the singer-songwriter’s current philosophy of not picking easy path to catharsis while savoring every living moment, hardships and all.

However, it’s not enough to hear the album’s frivolously defiant centerpiece “Last Cute Minute” to grasp this fiddle-flaunting feeling, because Ms. Lane’s offering a wider emotional landscape for the listener to explore and see her employ pure folk tropes to dig deep into one’s soul and resort to country idioms when opting for lighthearted pastime. Which is why, whereas the unhurried “Rodeo Clown” deliberately whips up a cowgirl vibe in order to call people back to the plough, the introspective “Woman Like That” and bone-chilling “No Fear” wrap homespun groove into acoustic strum and shoot electric pins under the chanteuse’s skin until communal harmonies help her shoulder a moral burden across the refrain and terrain alike, with Robin’s golden vocals running the gamut between despair and hope. But “Hard Life” distills the two styles into high-spirited Americana as we know it before the steel-caressed “Hunny Dummer” draws on the Appalachian sort of pining, and the organ-oiled “Hurricane Watch” goes for sublime balladry of a major commercial appeal – as does “Sunshine Blue Skies” whose retro-pop tinge has a magnetic allure.

It’s a riveting exercise to be searching for the high ground – yet Robin Lane’s pursue of happiness is sublimely graceful, and joining her on the way there is a treat.


June 29, 2023

Category(s): Reviews
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