ALLARD, "Loose Change and Spare Parts"
(Reckless Abandon Music)
Since the 1994 release of her self-titled debut, Terri Allard
has carved out a nice niche for herself as one of the leading
voices in the state's singer/songwriter chorus. A regular player
in Central Virginia's clubs and listening rooms, the Charlottesville
resident's been branching well outside the state's borders recently,
taking her songs on increasingly frequent road trips to the four
corners and the center of the country.
Allard's new album finds her doing a little musical branching
out as she heads down a couple of acoustic paths that she hasn't
previously explored. In addition to a very strong batch of her
usual warm contemporary folk, she's included a couple of brief
but successful encounters with blues and some effectively unconventional
vocal stylings. The result is an 11-song collection that is both
her most emotionally satisfying work and evidence of the impressive
growth that Allard has experienced as both a writer and performer.
The CD opens in typical Allard fashion with "Lifeline,"
a beautiful and moving romantic ballad. Similar in style are the
graceful heartache of "Words You Cannot Say,"
"Forbidden Fruit," a melodically mellow song
of seduction, and the gentle twang and unfulfilled ambition theme
of "Reckless Abandon."
Robin and Linda Williams help out with harmonies on "We'll
Have Elvis," a very cool driving tune, and Allard makes
her feelings about the social value of the television industry
quite clear on the slick and quick "The Television."
The first new wrinkle on the bluesy title song where Allard plays
the role of brokenhearted torch singer. Gary Green's harmonica
adds a little smoke to "La La Rosie Goes," a
tension-charged portrait of midlife crisis. And with that same
harmonica and her own gravelly vocals, Allard delivers "Squeaky
Wheel" with a surprisingly tough and jagged edge.
Allard gets just the right level of instrumental backing from
a crack band of acoustic musicians that includes Green, Sonny
Layne on upright bass, Jeff Saine on lap steel and accordion,
Jim Taggert on guitar and mandolin and drummer Eddie Hall. But
the boys are smart enough to stay out of her way as Allard saves
the most powerful vocal work for last on the almost a cappella
"I Don't Want to Know."