Story songs are Christy Hays' stock-in-trade, woven with a deftness and maturity through the 11 songs of her first recording, Drought. "Winter Solstice" knocks its hard-luck tale out of the ballpark, leaving a brooding, string-driven finale lingering before the next track begins. Gorgeously produced by Roy Taylor and featuring an eclectic list of musical accompanists (Craig Ross, Bukka Allen, Matt the Electrician), Hays' local debut signals her notable arrival with quiet grace ("You Don't Have To Wait," "American Car") that follows compellingly through "Birds Point Levee" and "Wendy and David." Indeed, the arrangements convey the songs, but the gritty lyrics carry their own weight and beauty in her plaintive vocals ("TVA"). With the twangy "Grocery Store Rose," she wryly dances into Jo Carol Pierce turf, a formidable place indeed: "No thorns on its stem, no bloom left within/ Some powder and string, it don't fix a thing." Drought comes up anything but dry.
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