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Amber Cross

Savage on the Downhill – 2017 (Self-released)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Amber Cross

The second studio release from Maine native and currently Northern California-based singer/songwriter Amber Cross is an impressive collection of original country/folk tunes delivered in a manner reminiscent of Nancy Griffith and Iris Dement. The set kicks off with "Pack of Lies" which effectively sets the dark tone that prevails throughout the effort as Cross confronts the damage caused by deceit ("There's no way around how careless I've been/Selfish and blind, facade of love, loss of a friend"). Similarly in "Leaving Again" Cross deals with the guilt that results from a failed relationship ("Can't live with myself, his poor heart in my hands").

One of the stronger tracks is "Echoes," a poignant examination of a marriage that is challenged now that the kids are grown ("Out of the stillness comes a question begs an answer/With just you and I will this house still be a home") but ends with a touch of optimism ("After all these years I know we'll find the love again"). Other highlights are the title track and "Tracey Joe" co-written with producer Ray Bonneville, who also contributed the gloomy closing track "Lone Freighter's Wail" ("I wail for the drifter who is like me/No direction or sure place to be").

In addition to Bonneville (electric guitar, harmonica) the musicianship is stellar throughout with notable contributions from Gurf Morlix (bass, electric guitar, baritone guitar), Tim O'Brien (fiddle) and Mike Hardwick (pedal steel). With pleasant vocals and smart, authentic compositions "Savage On The Downhill" is a compelling listen.