EVE SELIS – See Me With Your Heart (Hippie Chick Twang HCTCD0513)

See Me With Your HeartLaid up after a rollerblading accident, Selis took time to take stock of why she was making music, especially given that, after eight albums (nine if you include her Christmas collection), she had still not broken down the crossover wall between a loyal following and wider acceptance. It also allowed her to take a look at her life. The result was See Me With Your Heart, a collection of songs which, she said, allowed her to “face the wounds without flinching and learn to celebrate the scars”, and which are linked by the concept of unconditional love, of herself as much as anyone.

As such, the titles often speak volumes, kicking off with ‘Fearless Heart’, a punchy Petty meets Lucinda country-rock swagger about finding the strength and courage to let down your defences and take a step into the unknown as she sings “one day I’ll embrace the weakness that has caged my soul, I’ll surrender to the grace and freely fall“. Likewise on the metaphorical journey of ‘Still Have A Long Way To Go’ where she rolls out the southern gospel blues while producer Kenny Greenberg supplies the wailing guitar.

It’s one of the few songs here that cranks up a gutsy noise, the others being the tribal bluesy stomp of ‘Little Wars’, a song about pulling back from confrontation in order to save a relationship, and the Stonesy country strut ‘Slow Down’, its chorus of “Slow down let me catch my breath, shorten your stride so I can match your step, take your time give my heart a rest” sharing melodic kinship with the Pointer Sisters’ ‘Slow Hand’.

In keeping the introspective mood, the majority of the numbers are ballads. The title track (actually written as a submission for an animated film of The Little Prince) is a yearning plea for emotional rescue that tellingly sits alongside the equally aching and openly vulnerable country-torch ‘Can’t See Past Myself’ where “the mirror of my pride is hiding the reflection of all that I could be if I could see that I am you and you are me.” The theme carries over into the shimmering and soaring ‘Beautiful Dreamer’ (“I used to try to bring you down, and then I stepped inside your dream and I found out there’s so much more to see”).

That need to look beyond the external is also there on ‘The Man He Never Was’, a painfully poignant song in which she seeks to reconcile her childhood memories of her father, her ‘shining knight’ with the reality that she felt there was something missing when she sings ‘did he know how much I needed him. Was he holding something back or was it all he had to give.’

In the slow burning ‘Already Gone’ there’s the recognition that, if you’re not ready to give all of yourself, sometimes things cannot be saved or changed as she sings of a broken marriage where “She thought it would last for forever When they promised and gave their vows……she didn’t say the words he wanted to hear, she thought love could hold back his fear so she listened for hope and realized it was already gone.” However, this is a rare moment of defeat in an album that, generally, looks to break down the walls that hold you back and live life to the full, as powerfully encapsulated in the slow waltzing southern country gospel blues of ‘While The Night Is Still Young’, a refusal to go gentle into that dark night (“Whether I roll like Willie or crash like Hank, I wanna pull into heaven with an empty tank”).

Appropriately, given the album’s swings between determination and hesitation, between hope and uncertainty, but its belief that an open heart can bring healing and change, it closes with ‘Love Has The Final Say’, a song that, underpinned by piano, opens on a downbeat note of resignation as she sings “what happened to our dream the passion we once knew. You smile and look away but your eyes betray the truth. The crashing of the world the disillusioned crowd has broken us like stone and left us shattered on the ground”, but, while tears can’t wash away words spoken, it builds to a soaring capital-lettered climax of “AFTER EVERYTHING IS SAID AND DONE IT’LL BE OKAY

In the sleeve notes she says “these songs have changed me forever and allowed me to be whole again. My prayer is that they might do the same for you.” Amen to that.

Mike Davies

Artist’s website: http://www.eveselis.com/

‘See Me With Your Heart’ – live:



Down to Believing

The Academy and Grammy Award nominated singer-songwriter Allison Moorer is set to release her Proper Records debut, Down To Believing, on March 16.   Produced by longtime friend and collaborator, guitarist Kenny Greenberg, the album was recorded over two years in Nashville while Moorer commuted back and forth from her home in New York City.  Her eighth studio recording since her 1998 debut Alabama Song, Down To Believing is her most personal collection of songs to date; one in which Rolling Stone has already called “brilliant and extraordinarily candid.”

The 13-song set is in many ways a sequel to Moorer and Greenberg’s second collaboration, the acclaimed 2000 album The Hardest Part.   At the time of its release, Moorer often acknowledged the inspiration her parents’ relationship had on that album.  Fifteen years later, she’s sifting eloquently through her modern day life as the inspiration for Down To Believing’s intensely personal song cycle.

The recording of Down To Believing began in January of 2012, the same month her son John Henry received a formal diagnosis of autism.  The song ‘Mama Let The Wolf In’ is her response to that diagnosis.   Speaking to Rolling Stone, Moorer said of the song:

“As a parent, whatever your children go through I think there’s a certain amount of it that you feel responsible for, even if you know that it has nothing to do with you…When you can’t protect them from going through something that’s hard, you feel responsible for it…Basically the song is channeling that energy and expressing that extreme frustration at not being able to protect him.  It makes me feel very powerless.”

Of the title track, one about the dissolution of her marriage to singer songwriter Steve Earle, Moorer says:

“‘Down To Believing’ is quite possibly one of my best songs, one of the most honest songs about marriage.”  She continues, “Obviously, this is a record about family and relationships.  ‘Blood’ is about my sister (singer songwriter Shelby Lynne).  It’s about loving someone unconditionally and always having your arms open to them no matter what.   Being able to reflect on your own experience and put it in a common language so that people can commune is what the job of a songwriter is.  I’m prouder of these songs than any I’ve ever written.”

Moorer’s 1998 song, ‘A Soft Place To Fall’ was included on the soundtrack to the feature film The Horse Whisperer, which led to an appearance in the film itself, as well as an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song.  The opportunity gained her worldwide attention and set the stage for her career.  She has been featured on releases by Joan Baez, Kid Rock, The Chieftains, while her songs have appeared on records by Miranda Lambert, Steve Earle and more.

She starred in the 2008 play Rebel Voices, based on Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove’s best-selling book Voices of a People’s History of The United States and also appeared in the 2009 film The People Speak.  The film was presented by the History Channel and was inspired by Zinn’s A People’s History of The Unites States.   It also featured Bob Dylan, Morgan Freeman, Bruce Springsteen, Danny Glover, Matt Damon, and more.

“In February 2010, when sultry Alabama-born singer Allison Moorer released her last album, Crows, she was married (to fellow musician Steve Earle) and was just two months away from the birth of the couple’s son, John Henry. Now, nearly five years later, as she prepares for the release of her next LP, the brilliant — and extraordinarily candid — Down to Believing, she is separated from Earle and navigating the bewildering diagnosis of John Henry’s autism.” Stephen L Betts, Rolling Stone.

Wish I – Live at Celtic Connections: