KALYN FAY – Good Company (Horton Records)

Good CompanyAfter international critical recognition for Caroline Spence and Courtney Marie Andrews, it’s time for the Tulsa-born singer-songwriter to step up to the plate and take her deserved place in the spotlight. Following on from her 2016 debut, Bible Belt, which was rooted in her father’s Cherokee heritage and her mother’s Christian beliefs, featuring John Fullbright on keys, Jesse Aycock on guitars, dobro and lap and pedal steel, and Carter Sampson and Jared Tyler among those providing harmonies, Good Company both consolidates and expands her prowess as both a writer and a singer on songs that explore her relationship with her home state of Oklahoma, looking forward rather than back.

It opens with her “staring out the window of this beat up old Camry” on the slow paced, wearyingly sung title track, seeking to break free of a life just running to stand still and how “we’re all just looking for something” though, for her, not, like her friend, settling for marriage and a family simply because that’s what you do. ‘Wait For Me’ has a more soulful edge to its sway as, accompanied by muted resonant guitar, she asks “will you miss me when I’m gone?”, underscoring the urge to get away but also the need to hold on to ties.

Riding a chugging rhythm and electric guitars crafting an open desert ambience, ‘Highway Driving has an appropriately more uptempo approach with its hints of Gretchen Peters and again talks of hitting the road even if you’ve “got no place to go and nowhere to run” in the hope that something or someone will turn up to provide a distraction.

Inspired by seeing both her friends and parents working through rough patches in their relationship, ‘Baby, Don’t You Worry’ is a slow, accordion-coloured barroom waltz about taking it slow, easing into the similarly paced, late evening bluesy post-break up ‘Come Around’ as she sings about “missing things I can’t seem to get over”, wondering whether “it’s pride I feel or an ache that I suffer” and planting her feet on steady ground, sustaining the mood with the pedal steel ache of ‘Long Time Coming’ and trying to put the past behind.

‘Oklahoma Hills’ lifts the pace slightly for a bluesy, organ-backed number about becoming tired of the road and thinking of things left behind as the seasons change and the songs of home are whispered in the wind and she pointedly admits “maybe I’m just a mess.” Another organ-paced slow waltz, ‘Alright In The End’ again has thoughts turned homewards and of “stars shining over Tulsa” and the hope “that they’re shining over you too.” Starting quietly, ‘Faint Memory’ maintains the reverie with thoughts of missing “slow dancing close in the living room and the record skips while it plays our tune”, remembering “the good times when life didn’t seem so bad”, and reflecting on how “sometimes it’s hard to see what you had”.

Veined with hints of The Band, the penultimate organ-based number, ‘Fool’s Heartbreak’, speaks of the challenges of moving on when you’re not even sure that’s what you want (“Feels like I’ve been working hard but I’m not sure what for/What’s the point of fighting if you don’t want the war”), waiting on the good times but “stuck in the chains of love” caught between “hell and the heavens above”.

It ends, a candle in the window, with the hauntingly lovely, dobro and accordion-stained ‘Dressed In White’, a song enrobed in grace and redemption, forgiveness and rebirth “calling for the best her father offered” as it gathers to a hymnal fall.

If there’s a criticism it’s that, because of the thematic nature of the songs, it can feel a little one-paced, and a little musical uplift might not have gone amiss, but, regardless, this is company you will want to keep close.

Mike Davies

Artist’s website: www.kalynfay.com

‘Come Around’ – official video: