If you have a passion or just a passing interest in the sounds of the South then this new album by Brigitte DeMeyer will be right up your street. SAVANNAH ROAD is the 6th studio release from Brigitte and succeeds in taking you on a roots fuelled southern journey of discovery. The combination of sultry vocals, evocative instrumentation and expressive lyrics weaves together a sound deeply embedded in the spirit of blues, soul, gospel and country. Brigitte has masterminded this project with much valued assistance from Will Kimbrough who has had a hand in co-writing most of the 13 tracks as well as contributing his renowned skilled musicianship.
Although not born and raised in the South, Brigitte is now a Nashville resident and derived inspiration for the record from a biography of southern rock icon Gregg Allman. The result is a sensual exploration of southern lore which encapsulates the spirit of an area strongly considered the bedrock of Americana music. Whilst embarking on a desire to explore the subject in sufficient depth, the record is remarkably uncomplicated and full of satisfying melodies to deliver the message, probably best exemplified in the tune-friendly, uplifting and optimistic ‘Say You Will Be Mine’.
Preceding this spritely number is the album’s lead and title track. ‘Savannah Road’ probably just deserves the top spot in my opinion and is a beautifully constructed song acting as a calling to this journey of discovery. With its explicit descriptive opening line of ‘rows and rows of peaches grow’, the canvas starts to fill up with vivid imagery. Brigitte’s song writing probably peaks with ‘Build Me A Fire’, an ode to her mother’s struggles in war torn Europe prior to her eventual emigration.
There are still examples of great lines in other songs and ‘cigar-box and chicken wire picking away’ from ‘Lightnin' Poor’ conjures up the dedication to interpret song in the most basic way. The bid to tap into the core of soul and blues is evident in the chorus driven ‘Please Believe Me’ and the observational ‘Boy’s Got Soul’. Liberal offerings of organ and occasional strains of back porch harp add to the mood while a dose of clarinet brings to life a late night lounge jazz feel to ‘Big Man’s Shoes’, which also possesses the album’s best guitar piece.
To enhance your sensory experience, ‘Simmer Right’ is literally a ‘tasty’ number while the tender tone to ‘Home Ground’ is designed to soothe any hardships derived from a journey through what can be a tough land. The voyage is completed with the philosophical and gospel overtures of ‘My Someday’ which emerges as an apt and suitable closer. The full track listing is completed by the trio ‘Worker’, ‘Honey Hush’ and ‘Conjure Woman’, with the latter being the pick and tapping into the mystique of the region.
SAVANNAH ROAD is an excellent album which brings an essence of peaches, dust roads and iced tea to your living room and, for a brief 46 minutes, you can immerse yourself into a sound steeped in the core of what makes Americana music a source of long lasting gratifying pleasure. Hopefully Brigitte DeMeyer can pay the UK a visit again to promote the album and re-live her performances as seen at previous Maverick Festivals.