By Kerry Dexter 8-18-2015
Angela Easterling knows about telling story and creating character through word and melody: all twelve of the songs on Common Law Wife are originals, the next step in a career that has seen her earlier albums and songs from them honored in a range of best of and top choice lists. No doubt this one will be so chosen too, as the South Carolina native tells stories which reach from the jaunty, celebratory title track to a murder ballad that’s certainly in the tradition of such songs but seen from a bit of different point in the story. There’s also a piece about letting go of an old love which offers fresh and poetic imagery, a meditation on generations past and present and yet to come, a story of baseball, mill towns, and the small town south, a tale from the Civil Rights Era, and the opening track, Hammer, which among other things is a powerful yet understated thought about the strength of songs. Easterling knows how to fashion these varied songs while keeping her own steady point of view and identity; she knows how to sing them too. If you have not heard Angela Easterling yet, you should: she’ll give you a lot to think about.