Starting from the soaring chorus of the opening song, "Borderline," Gilkyson journeys through themes, places, even across centuries. The showstopper here is clearly "Man of God," a fierce excoriation of our current president and the "faith"-fueled minions that prop him up, move his arms and legs around, and "wait for the Rapture like it's Disneyland." It's also just a great song: compelling, solid, frightening.
But my favorite on this album is "Jedidiah 1777," its lyrics pulled from actual letters penned by one of Gilkyson's ancestors, a soldier during the Revolutionary War. Cold and lonely in "this necessary war," he writes home, politely asks for someone to send him cloth for a new coat, dreams of home, prays for the safety of his family, inquires after "a certain Miss Moore." It's a sad, insistent song. Pump organ, ocarina, and pennywhistle and the striking unsonglike language make it sound ancient.
Eliza Gilkyson is at the Ark on a double bill with Tom Russell on Thursday, April 19.
[Review published April 2007]