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RetroSpecto

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Album Review

Eliza Gilkyson has had a long, solid career as a writer of hushed, strikingly literate songs that move at their own pace, and while she is certainly accessible enough to have garnered a large audience, she hasn't tried to go out of her way to court one, and this lack of concession makes her body of work refreshingly honest and sturdy. RetroSpecto, released on her own Realiza label, brings together key tracks from the now out of print albums that preceded her signing with Red House Records in 2000, along with a handful of demos and even a Christmas song she recorded in the 1950s when she was just nine years old. It's hardly piecemeal, though, and flows with an obvious cohesiveness, a measure of how dependable she's been as both a writer and as a performer all these years. Among the highlights is the lead track, "Beautiful Dreamer," which is, well, beautiful, and the stunning and emotionally sincere "Last Dance," where Gilkyson's voice hardly rises above a hoarse and subtle whisper. Gilkyson's version of her own "Rosie Strike Back," a jangling, rocking treatise on spousal abuse that was a key track on Rosanne Cash's King's Record Shop album, is also here, along with the zippy "Getaway." Even the Christmas demo, "A Little Star Came Down," has a charming energy. It's difficult to imagine how Gilkyson ever got lumped into the new age bracket, since she has much more in common with artists like Lucinda Williams or even Dolly Parton than she does someone like Enya. RetroSpecto works as a handy catch-up introduction to this insightful artist who truly deserves a wider audience.

Biography

Born: 1950 in Hollywood, CA

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Folk singer/songwriter Eliza Gilkyson was born in Hollywood, California, the daughter of folk-pop singer/songwriter Terry Gilkyson (1916-1999). Her father wrote and recorded "The Cry of the Wild Goose," which Frankie Laine covered for a number one hit in 1950, as well as the 1953 Top Ten hit "Tell Me a Story," recorded by Laine Jimmy Boyd. As a performer, he was co-credited with the Weavers on the 1951 Top Ten hit "On Top of Old Smoky." With Richard Dehr and Frank Miller, he was a member of the Easy...
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RetroSpecto, Eliza Gilkyson
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