Harris has created not only a sonic tour of small-town living, but a songwriting tour de force.
For her sophomore recording effort, Jaimee Harris took inspiration from her experiences growing up in small-town Waco, Texas. “These characters are a reflection of people whose resilience, hope, and faith is being tested. I love them. I am them,” she wrote in a post announcing the record, her first on Thirty Tigers.
She has captured those sentiments and more in the 10 arresting songs that comprise Boomerang Town. Love - and compassion - for the fragility of being human permeates the work, making it masterful.
Whether Harris is grieving the loss of a loved one (‘How Could You Be Gone’) or recounting the grip of addiction (‘Fair And Dark Haired Lad’), her nuanced delivery rings authentically. “Julie and I come from similar kin / Heavy drinkers quick to anger / Fist to skin / They all live and die here”, she sings on the title track, inhabiting the perspective of a too-young father as she details a series of choices that keep him rooted in the same place.
Often, her writing is simply devastating. 'Fall Devin’s Song,’ about a former classmate who was killed in grade school, is told from the point of view of a still-grieving mother.
Similarly, Harris’ voice drips with a certain kind of dreadful knowledge as she recounts the dark pull of addiction and the memories that haunt a dive bar’s walls: “I don’t remember / Can’t forget / Is that how we met?” She’s even more emotionally candid on ‘How Could You Be Gone,’ sounding not unlike Patti Smith as she sings from the gut-punch center of loss.
That’s not to say Harris isn’t able to convey joy as much as pathos. The gently strummed ‘Love is Gonna Come Again’ is a sensitive yet countering lullaby that’s full of encouragement, a song that would fit primely on any Emmylou Harris record. There’s even a sly and sexy smile audible in her voice on ‘Missing Someone,’ a celebratory bop about new and true love.
Harris pulls off a skillful balance of craftsmanship and heart on Boomerang Town. With her moving vocals and airtight lyricism, Harris has created not only a sonic tour of small-town living, but a songwriting tour de force.
Jaimee Harris' 2023 album, Boomerang Town, is released February 17th via Folk N' Roll Records / Thirty Tigers. You can purchase the record from one of Holler's selected partners below:
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