5 Star Review and CD of the Month, COUNTRY MUSIC PEOPLE MAGAZINE, UK "Every now and again a debut cd arrives and you know about 30 seconds in that you are witnessing something a bit special." Duncan Warwick, Editor
FLYINSHOES REVIEW- Maurice Hope
Maine-born, and now living in California Amber Cross has in You Can Come In one striking debut record!
Steeped in pedal steel, fiddle, mandolin, banjo, Dobro, piano, guitar and harmony vocals. Her music vies, like that of Iris DeMent, Nanci Griffith, Mary McCaslin, Hazel Dickens and the Kate Wolf between folk and country. Without the listener noticing or caring to take heed as Cross weaves, her songs together, tight as curtain fabric.
Possessing a fine knowledge of life and grasp of the old ways, like she was born in a wood shack, either in Appalachia or Northern California and not Maine. Nestled back in the country where nature is one’s best friend and to enjoy anything else a bonus, or as it can become a complication. As in a relationship, which doesn’t always ride smoothly. Cross grasp of emotional turmoil and the depth of her soulful lyrics set her aside from the also rans. As she pours out, like gravy on your Sunday dinner her soul on mournful ballad ‘You Can Come In’. It is as clever a piece of work of its kind I’ve heard in some time, once heard I couldn’t get the melody or direct as an arrow lyrics off my head, the fiddle of Jeanie McLerie and accordion of Kenneth Keppeler is also just perfect too. Plus you have the shuffling ‘City Lights’ and ‘Ain’t That Something’. The latter may not quite measure up to the previous two, but it is still worth a notable mention, as is the stronger, won’t be stopped be it a wall, freight train or ocean way steel and accordion doused ‘Mid September’. Which travels as if propelled by someone greater in statue and experience that diminutive raw recruit, Amber Cross. This is no put down either. Her lyrics rich in wistfulness as a joyful feel akin to a young spirit rambling is paired with one rich in experience, reflecting on life’s simple things, and idiosyncrasy of life. Of how the fondest and most lasting memories in life are often those costing little. Yes, she looks like she is set for the long haul. You only need to listen to her song ‘San Joaquin’; done in the spirit of Woody Guthrie it decries of how the loss of a river that once made a valley rich in soil, grow crops and one beautiful and green but lose out to the mighty dollar and greed.
Arguably her finest song is ‘Black-Eyed Susan’, a masterful piece of writing it evokes imagery as great as any Iris Dement or Diana Jones song, the impact made by the former's song ‘Our Town’ came to mind the first time I heard it! The opening line of ‘We walked a mile just to get to god followed by; can't you see I'm walking just behind you dad / two steps to your one ain't half bad and the one that beat all. The smell of the hymnal in my hands / Sitting in the pew next to you.
The only song not written by Cross is Jim Ringer’s ‘Waiting For The Hard Times To Go’. Performed as a duet with Gary Arcemont (he also plays fiddle) it once again sees Cross’ musical stature belie her tender years. I can’t emphasise too much how much she excels in this department, that of painting pictures of life where making a living or getting by isn’t handed to one on a plate, and of the hard decisions to be made when it comes to life. Of a similar feel to an old standard ‘Things I Saved’ is old country, like something dug out from a battered, old attic stored trunk. Getting back into a foot loose rambling modeto the sound of her own acoustic guitar plus jaunty harmonica (Jonas Richardson), mandolin (James Moore), bass (Fred Murray), drums (Daryl Vandruff) there is ‘Selma’ . ‘Oh Jealous Mind’ with Dobro (Daniel Richardson), bass and fiddle (Gilles Apap) is a bluegrass romp set to get up and dancing, opposed to the wistful ‘February’ which has her recalling how despite all the setbacks, and briefness of, a relationship maybe stability will inevitably return.
Amber’s music needs to be heard, and God willing we shall see this precocious talent be taken under the wing of someone with a track record she deserves. Or someone with the desire and determination needed to place this young girl up among those she gained the inspiration, to pick up a guitar, sit down and write her thoughts on a piece of paper. Maurice Hope
Upon first hearing the straightforward, old-school country songs of Amber Cross, you might at first think you are listening
to an archival Smithsonian recording. Her old-time voice is clear and captivating. She's a singer and songwriter who writes from her own life’s struggles and experiences, delivering her stories with unforgettable power and emotion. Originally from Maine, now residing in CA...more