Eliza Gilkyson

Record review

Texas Platters

Eliza Gilkyson

Paradise Hotel (Red House)

Neither life nor love has spared Eliza Gilkyson its sharp edges, even if the muses have blessed her bountifully. She bore her wounds with style and grace on 2000's Hard Times in Babylon, tour de force "The Beauty Way," and the acclaimed Lost and Found (2002). Last year's Grammy-nominated Land of Milk and Honey was filled with blood tears for losses redeemed and the dead remembered. It's with great relief and comfort, then, to hear Paradise Hotel and feel the new, soft skin as old scars heal. This new offering in her contemporarily flawless oeuvre is tender and cathartic to the point of jubilation, brimming with radio-polished tunes ("Is It Like Today," "Bellarosa") and exquisite traditional folk ("Jedidiah 1777"). Paradise Hotel is rife with nuances that distinguish its author's pen; on "Borderline," she hums "Whiter Shade of Pale" to her own melody. Gilkyson hasn't backed down from her hard-line political stance either. The album's showstopper is the third track, "Man of God," booming with authority and righteous rejection of the party line. With longtime producer/compadre Mark Hallman providing his intuitive and expert touch, the question then is not which of her albums is the best; it's how do you choose between silk and velvet? (CD release: Cactus Cafe, Saturday, Aug. 13)

****

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