Eliza Gilkyson
Photo: Robert Jensen / Propeller Publicity

Eliza Gilkyson Takes Us ‘Home’ Again

Eliza Gilkyson is a thoughtful, clever lyricist. Her music is literate and evocative with images of places and states of mind sharing time and space on Home.

Eliza Gilkyson
Realiza Records
23 June 2023

The highly talented folk-based singer-songwriter Eliza Gilkyson continues releasing high-quality, primarily acoustic, contemporary folk-based music. She has put out 14 albums this century alone. So the question is, do we need another Gilkyson record? Well, if the answer is Home, the answer is yes. As with her previous albums, this one offers a plethora of listening pleasures. The songs and playing are first-rate, and Gilkyson is in fine voice. That doesn’t mean everything in life is fine. We live in precarious times. Home offers an emotional respite from public concerns to dealing with more personal ones.

One’s private apocalypse has no significant impact on the world, Gilkyson realizes in “Here Comes the Night”. This is not a cover of the old “Them” classic, but a bouncy take on the old “my feelings don’t count a hill of beans cliché”. That said, the night can be scary for the person left alone. Gilkyson captures the conflicting, self-mocking impulses with a tuneful melody that works with a whistle, a happy tune effect. Many of our problems are genuinely First World problems. Perspective matters.

Gilkyson sings with a lilt in her voice. She vocally expresses her feelings as well as conveys her thoughts. She is a sensitive soul. The ten tracks on her latest album, Home, offer emotional thrills more than self-reflection. Gilkyson compares her songs to “Sparrows” on the lovely ballad by that name. Her compositions are also “heaven sent”, “spring rain”, “a newborn”, “a voyager”, “wildflowers”, and “floating without purpose”. Gilkyson is a thoughtful and clever lyricist. Her material is literate and evocative. Images of places and states of mind share a time and space in her music.

There is something both poetic and judicious in her metaphors, such as the ones previously listed. Her songs are sent out into the world, a gift from the muse, a relief from her pent-up heat and existence during contemporary times, a new object from her but no longer of her, are her way of exploring herself and the world and sourced in a deep place not ruled by conscious thought. Gilkyson’s version is much more precise and haunting. By the way. Mary Chapin Carpenter harmonizes with Gilkyson, another fine artist working in the same field (and of her works, one could praise similarly) on “Sparrow”.

Gilkyson also duets with Lone Star master Robert Earl Keen on the love song “How Deep”. They both use the patina of age as part of their vocal palette to express the richness of their long-time desires. Keen’s voice almost cracks at times, but Gilkyson understands how restraint can signal a stronger feeling than letting go. The singer-songwriter also employs her brother Tony Gilkyson (X, Lone Justice, Chuck E. Weiss) on electric guitar for several songs. Gilkyson co-produced the album with multi-instrumentalist Don Richmond.

The first nine songs are mostly the singer-songwriter’s compositions. However, Gilkyson ends with a cover of Karla Bonoff’s “Home”. The title song is best known as a hit for Bonnie Raitt. This version offers a folk authenticity with stringed instruments strumming as one during a friendly gathering on the front porch. Bonoff and Raitt may have been seeking relief from the blues, but Gilkyson appreciates home in and of itself.

RATING 7 / 10