Based in Switzerland but raised in Boston, Nature, the mini-album follow-up to last year’s Chemical Reaction, is the first to feature her partner, go-to sideman Mike Bischof, who both co-produced, did the arrangements and plays guitar and bass while David Raven lays down the drums.
Featuring Aaron Till on fiddle and mandolin with Suzie Candell on harmonies, it opens with ‘Brown Eyed Man’, her answer to Van Morrison’s ‘Brown Eyed Girl’, a mid-tempo bounce love song to “the brown eyed man who married me saved me from my life going bad”. She even sings a line in German. A twang to the guitar and clicking percussion, ‘Let’s Be Loving’ is a reminder not to carry grudges (“friends have disappeared when fair weather went south”) because it’s too late to reconcile when you’re dead (“the blink of an eye is all it takes to make things right, to say goodbye, say I love you, kiss goodnight”).
The drums rattling in, the pace picks up on ‘Sweeter’, another breezy love song (“Long time honey you’re my lucky charm/You got my name tattooed on your arm/When I’m cold you’re my personal heater/We got a thing and it’s just getting sweeter”), here with a 60s country pop feel.
The longest and stand-out number is the six-minute slow swaying strummed ‘The Merrimack’, a folksy storysong narrative about the 2005 flooding of the Merrimack River in New Hampshire which saw roads and bridges wiped out, several deaths, and whole buildings destroyed, the tragedy recounted in the voice of Mary Gold who lost both her son and his step-father (“next day they were found with their arms around one another – in a brothers’ embrace/yeah they were found, dead – with their arms ‘round each other, clinging for life”), she still living by the river that took them and the mud that holds her family’s blood.
Damiano Della Torre on Hammond and Rhodes, the title track is a slow walking country soul that reminds that nature can heal as well as destroy (“the more I get outside in nature…the more my worries melt away …I realize it’s in my nature, to step into the light and play every day”), and, playing piano, is joined by Jersey Julie’s saxophone and Till’s viola on the closing R&B tinged swaggery Southern country ‘When It Rains’ which, with a bluesy guitar solo from Bischof, closes up with another song of love as she sings “I’m thinking of you in every kind of weather and I got the means of making things so much better/my touch is gold … and I’m here for you to hold… we’re stronger in this world together/so when the flames lick at your door, I’m wondering ‘what’s he waiting for?’”. Let her embrace you too.
Artist’s website: www.bethwimmer.com
‘Brown Eyed Man’: