Prepare for another album about change and self-discovery - but unlike the late-career retrospectives that have come before it, Americana singer Tiffany Huggins Grant's "Jonquil Child" delivers a youthful look at a life still being lived.
The album name and titular song refer to Grant's transition from small Smyrna, Ga., a town known as the "Jonquil City" for its abundance of the flowers, to the adult world of Nashville's music scene. But it also sums up the album's tone and structure - "jonquil" referring to the clusters of yellow sunshine that burst in each track, and "child" characterizing its youthful sound and charming naivety.
The sunshine fades on standout track "When It Rains," one of the melancholy tunes that tell of the lows amongst the sunny highs. "I pour another shot of whiskey, I drink it down the hatch," Grant sings. "It burns just like memories in the flicker of a match." Alcohol and fire aren't strange bedfellows, but the way Grant connects them alludes to a maturity grown from sinister history. Innocence isn't mourned, however. "Trouble on My Mind" captures her ambivalence toward moving onto a more mature part of her life.
The penultimate stop on the ride is "Fighter," a rock-inspired song that contains some of the most self-effacing and honest lyrics on the entire album:
"I play the game just like everyone else, claw my way to the top just to watch myself fall to the ground again, but I'll get back up because I'm a stubborn bitch, a crazy fool and I don't believe in love," she sings. It's cynical, but there's a naive bravado to it, too, as the song continues to describe her hope for making her ascent to success - in love, life and music -anyway.
Grant's voice alone is worthy of attention, but it helps that she has a well-credentialed band behind her. Drummer Paul Griffith has played with Emmylou Harris; keyboardist Jen Gunderman with Sheryl Crow; and steel guitarist John Heinich with Hank Williams Jr., Merle Haggard and Reba McEntire. Their combined experience matches Grant's storytelling ability with a precision that fades into the background but is always there. They are the ever-present yellow flowers to her Smyrna.
"Jonquil Child" is not Grant's first album (that was 2012's "Sing Sigh Kitty"), and it is wise for her age. Consider it Grant's preemptive autobiography - unafraid to admit the downtrodden times, but placing emphasis on the days when everything comes up jonquil.