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Christy McWilson | The Lucky One (Hightone Records)
Not so much the sound of the West, but the Pacific Northwest, Seattle to be precise, which isn't exactly famous for its country roots. Nevertheless Christy gives it her best shot and rewrites musical geography. With a rich, clear voice on her side and a few famous friends enlisted to back her, the leader of The Pickets is onto a winner with her solo album. Former Lone Justice and Jayhawks drummer Don Heffington lends a deft touch and Peter Buck strums unobtrusively allowing each song to find its own pace and space. Subtlety seems to be the keyword here, when Syd Straw pops up on backing vocals it's a faint cry in the distance and you have to strain to hear Mike Mills on Cryin' Out Loud, although his yodelling on Little Red Hen is unmistakable! It may be subtle, but it ain't bland, mainly due to the fact that it sounds like the band were having fun. There's a looseness in the light orchestrations allowing guitar, pedal steel and mandolin to rise up and slink off again without making a fuss while Christy's voice gives an occasional rasp when needed to add some bite. This is the sound of people who know how to make music and enjoy doing so and it shows, so get some luck on your side with this little gem.

Laurence Arnold
CWAS #6 - Autumn 2000