Kim Richey Celebrates 20th Anniversary of ‘Glimmer’ with Bold/New Reinterpretations (ALBUM REVIEW)

The original Glimmer was Richey’s third album as she was transitioning from a writer of hit country songs for Radney Foster and Trisha Yearwood, among others. The original was, for the most part, considered a good album by the critics but many who were seeking more country fare, objected to its pop and rock qualities. Nonetheless, it gave Richey a big boost of acceptance as a singer-songwriter, with even Al Gore, trying to prove he was somewhat contemporary, claiming it as one of his favorites on his iPod. The full title of this one, to avoid confusion, is A Long Way Back: The Songs of Glimmer.

The strength of the original was by far Richey’s lyrics, which in some cases were buried in the instrumental pop flourishes. She seems to have recognized that liability, choosing here to re-record the songs in a stripped-down format to allow more focus on the lyrics. This set was recorded and produced in Nashville by guitarist and two-time Grammy-nominated producer Doug Lancio, who played most of the instruments. Other musicians include the like-minded intimate types – Nielson Hubbard, Dan Mitchell and Aaron Smith. The instrumental choices here are often remarkable, be it a flugelhorn or banjo. Notably, Mitchell’s flugelhorn graces “Long Way Back” and “Good at Secrets” while Smith adds drums on three tracks, Mitchell keys on four, and he and Hubbard add vocal harmonies to “Can’t Lose The All” and “If You Don’t Mind.” Compare this to the original where there are a dozen musicians or singers. 

Richey is also acknowledged as a terrific vocalist, singing background on Jason Isbell’s Southeastern as well as on albums from Ryan Adams and Shawn Colvin and country stars Reba McIntire, Yearwood, and Vince Gill. Brandi Carlile attributes much of her own vocal style to Richey. Here Richey owns all lead vocals, and judiciously layers in her harmonies on some selections. These are deep songs about relationships and life that she delivers with succinct lyrics and a demeanor that seems brighter than the original. In “So It Goes,” for example, Richey sings, “I made some good friends and I made mistakes / Lost my religion and I found my faith / I tried to walk down every path I chose / So it goes.” In “Can’t Lose Them All,” Richey sings -“But every time I get shot down / I justify the risk / Because I come a little closer / To a hit with every miss.”

Richey used a co-writer or co-writers on 12 of the 14 tunes, penning just two by herself. The two most recognizable tunes are the ones that received the most airplay twenty years ago, “Come Around,” (written with Tim Krekel) the opener, is a smoldering ballad about an old flame that won’t die. “Long Way Back” (written by Richey) is a standout track about reflection.  Just to refresh your memory of some of the previous album lyrics, here’s an excerpt from “Come Around” – “Well I’m the first to say I should/Forget you and I wish I could/Sometimes wished don’t come true…It doesn’t seem like much to ask/to live a life that isn’t caught up in the past/But there’s really no place else on earth/For me right now/I wish you’d come around/I wish you’d come around/why don’t you come around.”  And this verse in “Long Way Back” is especially strong – “And I might let you in/And I might let you twist/Pardon every sin/Seal the bargain/With a kiss/Too much has passed/For me to walk you through this.”

Without a doubt, this sonic treatment is a better one for these well-constructed tunes. She and Lancio commendably give these “Songs of Glimmer” a new sheen that’s brighter and shinier than the original. 



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