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Album Review

Kim Richey, ‘Wreck Your Wheels’

By Steve Morse
Globe Correspondent / September 6, 2010

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Kim Richey is a perennial critic’s favorite who is still looking to break through as a performer, not just a songwriter. She has co-written two No. 1 country singles, including Trisha Yearwood’s “Believe Me Baby (I Lied),’’ and a few other Top 10s, yet her five solo albums, released over the last 15 years, are largely unknown. This, her sixth, could change that. Her warm, captivating soprano is just the right tonic for listeners who enjoy intimate, graceful love songs with an adult lyricism and feel. Richey has been said to write songs with a “positive melancholy’’ and that’s true. “For a While’’ and “In the Years to Come’’ confront the fear that comes with break-ups, but Richey’s angelic voice takes them on paths that still leave you optimistic. She can be sexy, ethereal (as on most songs here), or deeply philosophical, as in the hymnal “Word to the Wise.’’ The album was recorded live with her band in the studio, so it has an organic touch. Acoustic guitars anchor the melodies, but there are also quirky, cinematic textures ranging from cello and flugelhorn to vibes and glockenspiel (dubbed “glockenwhatsit’’ in the credits). Richey may remain a best-kept secret and this album is not loaded with obvious hits, but if you like honest, beautifully sung music, then lend her an ear. (Out next week)

Kim Richey plays Club Passim on Oct. 12.

FOLK-COUNTRY
Kim Richey, ‘Wreck Your Wheels’
Thirty Tigers Records
ESSENTIAL “Word to the Wise’’