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Eliza Gilkyson

The Nocturne Diaries – 2014 (Red House)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Eliza Gilkyson

With 20 albums and well over 3 decades of musical exploration behind her, Eliza Gilkyson's career resides in a kind of amorphous no-man's land where her kudos and accolades don't seem in sync with her inexplicable lack of wider recognition, a Grammy nod aside. Regardless, she had a head start on a viable career early on; the daughter of a Disney soundtrack composer, she had the advantage of an early apprenticeship that allowed her to follow in her father's footsteps. Her first album was released in 1969, and although it took her another 10 years to provide a follow-up, those early efforts verified the fact she had learned her lessons well.

Fast forward to the present and Gilkyson's latest release, "The Nocturne Diaries," a set of songs that ranks among her best yet. Inspired by a midnight muse, the album is, in Gilkyson's words, "a journey through the dark night of the soul that ends at the light of dawn with a sense of gratitude, a renewed commitment to care and a stubborn little ray of hope." It's an eloquent statement borne out by some of the most beautiful songs Gilkyson has ever recorded. At its heart is "Eliza Jane," an optimistic and upbeat song to herself, built on a foundation of unabashed affirmation. "Lift your eyes and you just might find/You see something good, Eliza..."

Recorded with the help of her son and co-producer Cisco Ryder, the rest of "The Nocturne Diaries" proves just as reassuring, all soothing sounds that occasionally also sound forlorn. While most of the tunes are tender ("Touchstone," "World Without End," "The Red Rose and the Thorn") a few lean towards the tempestuous ("Not My Home," "The Ark"). Yet considering their origins - that time that lies between dusk and daylight - these songs are just gentle enough to coax a good night's sleep.