New Mexico-based singer/songwriter Eliza Gilkyson's "Songs From the River Wind" is an entertaining mix of original and traditional tunes with touches of country, folk and bluegrass.
After having focused largely on social themes in recent works, Gilkyson endeavored to take a break from politics and feature tunes that reflect her fondness for the Old West. Gilkyson's "Charlie Moore" is a folksy tribute to an inspirational friend from her youth ("Brought up as a tribal Indian, he was an old man when I met him/I was shy and unsure, a shadow of a girl/But I will never forget him").
On several tracks Gilksyson fuses original lyrics with traditional material as in "Colorado Trail" ("The nights are so lonely/When there's someone left behind") with a final verse that Gilkyson learned from an old Sons of the Pioneers recording. Similarly with "Wandering" Gilkyson nicely covers a traditional Irish tune her father's band Terry Gilkyson and the Easy Riders recorded in 1958, with new lyrics that give a sweetly sentimental nod to her father ("My father was a song man/My mother broke his heart").
"Buffalo Gals Redux" is reworked to effectively serve as something of a title track ("Buffalo gals and pony boys/Get to congregating down in old Dubois/Cowboys coming out to make some noise/At the Wind River Rendevoux"), as does the original "Wind River and You" in which Gilkyson reminisces about a youthful romance ("Wind River love, sagebrush and grass grow/My heart has been lasso'd by a love that is true").
The effort was tastefully produced by multi-instrumentalist Don Richmond, who arranged the traditional instrumental "CM Schottische" complete with simulated surface noise to recreate the feel of listening to an old 78 RPM record. With notable contributions from Warren Hood (fiddle), Kym Warner (mandolin) and Michael Hearne (harmony vocals), "Songs From the River Wind" is thoroughly enjoyable.