Where Eliza Gilkyson‘s songwriting has often scorched with a call to sociopolitical action, the folk luminary’s forthcoming Songs From the River Wind is decidedly more personal. Described as her love letter to the Old West, it’s masterfully written and performed folk music that spans 40 years. Comprised of originals and covers, her everlasting adoration for the West that she calls home rings pristine. Due on 14 January via Howlin’ Dog, it’s a fitting dedication following her recent move to Taos, New Mexico.
Songs from the River Wind sees Eliza nodding to her father, fellow folksinger Terry Gilkyson and his group, the Easy Riders, who recorded distinctively western folk music. It’s a collaboration with her longtime friend, producer Don Richmond. His band, the Rifters, provide backup harmonies on the album. It also features fellow folk mainstays, from Michael Hearne to mandolinist Kym Warner and fiddler Warren Hood.
“At the Foot of the Mountain”, Gilkyson’s debut single from the album, encapsulates her intent with Songs from the River Wind in a song. It highlights her love for the West, its history and people, and its mountains and rivers. The track stands as a particularly personal message when one considers that her new home is, indeed, “at the foot of the mountain”. Richmond’s organic and lush production offers ample room for warm vocals and outstanding folk instrumentation to stand side-by-side. The absolute highlight is Gilkyson’s sincere delivery, accentuated by the superb artists backing her up.
Gilkyson tells PopMatters, “There’s just something very personal about being sheltered by a big mountain that is the sustenance for an entire ecosystem/community, catching the snow and the rain and storing it in the ditches, streams, and wells that we all draw water from. This is typical of many historic water systems throughout the drought-ridden West, and people who rely on the mountain develop an affection for it that runs deep and continues to grow through the extreme and frightening climate changes we all are encountering.”
“I look forward to sharing an aspect of myself and my history that I have been a bit divorced from in the last 20 years of making records. These stories of people and places I have known and loved from my earlier years up until my recent return to New Mexico formed a real foundation for who I am today and what I care most about.”