Beguiler review in No Depression

Beguiler review in No Depression, by Mando Lines
Angela-áEasterling’s new CD is called Beguiler, which-ámeans to charm or attract,-ágenerally by deception.-á The album is quite-ácharming and, if you listen to the lyrics, you’ll find deception as well. -áThe most obvious example -áis-áGroup Self Deception (It’s Alright), a tune about the lies folks-átell every day.-á “Lie to-áthe dentist about flossing your teeth, Lie to the scale about what you eat, Lie to-áyour wife about where you’ve been, Lie to your man ’cause you were with his friend . . .”-á-á

A Married Man-átackles a more specific type of deception, warning-á”no matter-áhow you try, you won’t win his heart tonight.”-á-á Partner deception and self-deception in-ámatters of the heart-áare dealt with in Maria, My Friend, a song told from the standpoint of a girl in love with-áher brother’s girlfriend, Maria.-á “He never knew a thing but she would take off his ring, put her hand in mine, sneak out some-ácheap wine and make my head spin.” -áWhen Maria owns up to-áher orientation and heads west,-áour narrator-ádoesn’t go, staying behind and marrying a nice guy-álike she’s supposed to,-áending up-á”empty within.”-á

In a sort of follow up to Black Top Road (the title song to Ms. Easterling’s last album), the song Manifest Destiny-áaddresses the deception inherent in calling property your own.-á “They stole this land from the Cherokee and sold it to my family. Taken now from you and me, Manifest Destiny.”-á

I-áfinally had the opportunity to meet-áMs. Easterling-áin-áTelluride last month, where she was appearing as a Telluride Troubadour finalist.-á (Photo on the left is Ms. Easterling on Telluride’s main stage.)-á I’ve been keeping up with her for-áseveral years and-áremain impressed by this talented, beautiful and hard-working woman-áfrom South Carolina.-á Those who-áknow Ms. Easterling will tell you-áshe’s-áthe genuine article, just as real and honest-áas you’re going to find behind a microphone these days.-á

So what’s an honest girl doing singing about all these lies?-á-áTelling the truth about them, of course, in a voice that is strong and clear, backed by The Beguilers, who are-áBrandon Turner (guitar) and Jeff Hook (drums).-á Will Kimbrough, who produced the record, also plays on it along with Byron House (bass)-áand Fats Kaplin (fiddle, accordion, pedal steel).-á Mr. Kimbrough has taken this very strong cast of players and-áfound just the right combination of instruments for each song, resulting in the impression that each song is recorded just as it should be, nothing missing and nothing extra.-á

In truth, all-áthe songs on Beguiler aren’t about deception.-á Ms. Easterling wrote 10 of the 12 songs on the CD, which-áare more extensions than-ádepartures from the themes of-áher previous work.-á That said, these songs, like Ms. Easterling, seem more mature and self-confident.-á-áMusically,-áBeguiler runs the gamut from-áthe light-áand upbeat Happy Song to-áa slow and sad-áJohnstown,-áPennsylvania.-á Ms. Easterling rocks us on Two Clouds, goes country on A Married Man and-átakes us to a cool jazz club on Pocket.-á All in all, a fine CD from an up-and-coming singer songwriter.-á Give it a listen.-á -á-á-á

Album photo by Coke Whitworth, photo of Ms. Easterling at Telluride by Mando Lines.

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