Out Past the Lights (Grace / Parkinsong)
Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., April 8, 2005
Out Past the Lights (Grace/ParkinSong)
The prodigal chanteuse cruises back into Austin half-time, anyway her motorcycle side bags weighted with sound and voice. At the New Mexican's millennial ride-out, Ana Egge was an already past-promising young singer-songwriter. With her fourth LP Out Past the Lights, which leapfrogs two local releases and a Canadian-only hookup, Egge burns rubber of a national caliber. Produced by Egge and Jason Mercer, whose friend Ron Sexsmith lends harmony vocals here (returning Egge's favor on his Blue Boy), Lights glows with banded warmth, enveloped by the singer's thick, heavenly voice. That strange fruit can sometimes overwhelm her pastoral urbanity, but Egge is pure siren irresistible. Strum and steel wrap around the deceptively warm rays of opener "Apple Tree," followed closely by the avian cry of "Straight to My Head," a mating call most "red, sticky, sweet." Slightly heavier gears on "Motorcycle" are oiled by a fuller sound streaked with trumpet. "Closer to the Motor" hums faster. "Wedding Dress" is overlaced with Egge's blanketing vox, yet remains a country cover awaiting its fitting. Late-night fare such as "Sailor" and "Birds" are brandy sifters lacquered with resolute yearning, while "Stone Bone" smuggles a murder ballad out from Gillian Welch's boneyard. The melodic canter found on "Ways of Waiting" begs better seeding on Egge's next outing, particularly since closer "City of Liberty" never quite outshines its pedal steel. Make no mistake, though, Out Past the Lights is over the rainbow.