Kim Richey's recordings have always too mercurial to pin down. She's stubbornly followed her muse down the lanes of contemporary country, Americana, and adult alternative pop, but has never stayed in one place too long. Thorn in My Heart possesses country music's spirit at heart, but it's not exactly a country record. Produced elegantly and sparely by Neilson Hubbard, it is a brave, confident collection that is irredeemably melancholy.
Singer-songwriter Kim Richey has had her greatest financial successes as the writer or co-writer of songs performed by country artists such as Patty Loveless and Trisha Yearwood. However, Richey is a first rate recording artist and performer in her own right. Her previous six albums of mostly original material revealed her talents at intimately expressing our shared personal thoughts of who we are, how we got here, and what’s next.
Kim RicheyThorn in My Heart(Yep Roc)Rating: 3 out of 5 stars If 2010’s Wreck Your Wheels was a retrenchment from the fussy production of its predecessor—2007’s terrific if underappreciated Chinese Boxes—then this new release from the always dependable Richey continues the backwards momentum. It further strips down the instrumentation leaving an open and uncluttered sound. As you can tell from the album’s title, Richey is not in the most joyful of moods and much of this falls on the melancholy side of lost or unrequited love.
If dependability were rewarded, Kim Richey would have all the trophies. Her first six albums meandered from contemporary country to pop to folk and were uniformly excellent. She wanders back to Nashville for her seventh release, “Thorn in My Heart,” and doesn’t miss a step. Locating the deepest part of heartache with pinpoint accuracy, Richey pierces on the catchy title track, observing, “It’s hard to hold your hand when you’re letting go.” She heads in a sultrier direction on the slinky “I Will Wait,” which is all close harmonies and body heat.