Fiddle player with Uncle Earl, Gellert follows up her 2013 solo debut with the seven track Workin’s Too Hard, which, at under 25 minutes, may be a little on the sort side but does further underscore her development as a songwriter in the American folk tradition as well as providing a platform for a voice rarely heard within the band setting.
Working with co-producer Kieran Kane on mandolin and acoustic guitar, supported by drummer Jamie Dick and Kai Welch on electric guitar and keys, Gellert kicks off with the simple strummed shuffling rhythm title track, an ode to kicking back after the daily grind apparently inspired by the opening lines of a 1937 Kentucky field recording. There are two further self-penned, numbers ‘Strike The Bells’ a brushed snares, strummed Baez-like musing on ageing and, her famous fiddle providing the intro, middle eight and end, the similarly themed slow waltzing ‘Perry’ (it’s named for and about the drink) with its plaintive lone piano and images of planting trees and birthing babies to leave behind to tend them.
There are also two Kane co-writes, first up being the waltzing ‘River Town’ with its reflections of indecision and a brief, melancholic guitar solo, the second being the mandolin led ‘Grey Bird’ which, combining new and traditional lyrics, deals with a lover’s inconstancy (“I have given you my heart, as constant as the sun/While yours is like the grey bird there, it sings for anyone”). She draws on traditional roots for two other numbers, taking the gospel folk ‘Oh Lovin’ Babe’ at a dappled rhythm while Dick turns up the percussive rockabilly chug for album train-time closer ‘I’m Bound For The Promised Land’ and sees Gellert breaking out the fiddle again for a mid tune romp.
Workin’s Too Hard is an understated, quiet affair that strikes an intimate, unhurried note and leaves you hoping her next won’t take quite so long or be quite so short.
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Artist website: www.raynagellert.com
‘Perry’ with Kristen Andreassin: