Restless Angel - Marie Gabrielle

Restless Angel, Marie Gabrielle's debut album is an immaculately produced and beautifully crafted collection of songs that encompasses a range of musical styles including acoustic and electric rock, ballads and blues. It features an impressive cast of backing musicians that includes the instantly recognisable piano of Dr John and the beautifully expressive violins of Antoine Silverman and Lorenza Ponce, with co-producers, Hugh McCracken on guitar plus gutsy harmonica and Rob Papparozzi - also on harmonica - both lending a hand. They join Marie on guitar, electric and acoustic, including slide and dobro. Throughout this richly textured instrumentation, Marie's distinctive warm vocals carves a solid groove, serving a welcoming slice of Americana that evokes the wide open spaces of the southern states, the highways and railroads of Texas and Louisiana, and the freight-train rhythms of freedom.

 

Images of an unchained spirit take flight and soar in the bright southern skies, an escape from the city, a freedom held aloft by the aching notes of a fiddle; the road beckons, the highway that is forever calling, like the road movie that is the title track with its journey from Houston to New Orleans, a road movie punctuated by memories of eating pecans in a friend’s backyard, visions of the moon, a night slept beside the tracks in a railroad shed ...

Restless Angel, don't let 'em clip your wings ...
Restless Angel, you are the songs you sing ...

 

... cruising the open highway in an old Mercury, across the glistening waters of Lake Pontchartrain, its twin bridges an iconic metaphor for the path of freedom, the widescreen and spacious vision of a crazy dream made manifest and of all that crazy dreams can make possible, like a causeway of the mind, journeying over that vast stretch of water, shuttling between the past and the present, leaving behind both the starting point and the destination, the north and south sides of any dream, just shorelines on an endless highway, memories of being young and broke with the wind in your hair ...

You held me tight ’til the sun came up
Looked in my eyes... and we took off again
Restless Angel, don't let 'em clip your wings ...
Restless Angel, you are the songs you sing ...

... as yearning and nostalgic as a slide guitar chord in open tuning, taking you back down the years and all those memories, all those highways and level crossings, the gas stations, the bottles of wine and the moon above the desert, playing songs 'til the dawn...

No psychedelic chickens or weird instrumentation here ... just honest dirt, a straight road heading off into the distance, a gutsy musical truth, emotion laid down plain and simple, as solid and reliable and uncomplicated as a telecaster, as straight forward as 4/4 and 12 bars ...

The tropes of freedom are again echoed in the blues here...Getting Over You, with its driving railroad rhythms of guitar and Hammond organ, the harmonica a freight-train whistle blowing, getting out of there, leaving behind what needs to be left behind, washing her spirit clean ... this is a spirit that’s got rambling on her mind ...

But it is the ballads that remain longest in the memory; the melancholy fiddle and reminiscences of the long-ago love in the album’s title track, Restless Angel; an excellent moving version of the quintessential Phil Ochs song, Chords of Fame; and perhaps most memorably, the haunting inspired lyrics of I Will Lay You Down, originally a poem that Marie later set to music ...

Falling like a snowflake
On a blue white mountain peak
Where thirteen fields of arnica grow wild
Ancient songs of wisdom
Roll like thunder with every beat
Of the unforsaken heart

And I will lay you down
Sunbeam halos
Surround your soul
With a freedom all your own ...

This is a soul that won’t be held down, that understands how to do right and live right and doesn’t want to be messed around no more; that gets itchy feet and restless when things don’t work out, that longs for the wide open spaces, the deserts, the mountain-tops, the flat horizons of waterways and rivers, the places to replenish the soul; to drink deep and cleanse the spirit, before taking off again, hitting the road, down the endless highway, across the tracks, over the longest bridge ... there’s a star to catch, a dream to chase, a dream forever wild in the heart ...

Restless Angel, don't let 'em clip your wings ...
Restless Angel, you are the songs you sing ...

John Edmiston - Waitapu.com

 

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