Natalie Hemby: Pins and Needles album review

Over the years of creating material for others, songwriter Natalie Hemby has specialized in creating songs around thoughtful characters. Country music, fortunately, thrives on storytelling. At Have ants, the artist who won a publishing contract barely out of his teens tackles her own tunes, songs she could have written for clients / friends like Miranda Lambert and Little Big Town. Her second solo album benefits from her zen approach to singing: she won’t go beyond what her men and women feel. In a genre with a penchant for melodrama, Hemby has the reach of a novelist and the concentration of a short story writer.

An imagist adept at providing vivid ideas for singers like Lee Ann Womack (“The bees“could be in a Writing songs for dummies manuel), Hemby has earned these royalties over the past decade. A catchy and flashy number for Kelly Clarkson in “Don’t Rush”; songs about simple stuff like “Pink Sunglasses” and “Smoking Jacket”, among others, for Lambert; and tricky bubble disco bops like “Velvet Elvis” and “Butterflies” for Kacey Musgraves – whether she writes alone or with a crew, her material works like scripts devoid of camera directions, as if she knew the star was going. to change things. Hemby’s debut in 2017, Puxico, was the equivalent of an independent film whose directors had already rubbed shoulders with George Clooney: hesitant, aware (if not self-aware) of its smaller scale. Two years later, a project with Amanda Shires, Brandi Carlisle and Maren Morris called Highwomen saw Hemby mingle with three exemplary singers and songwriters in a demo of a Democracy album at its happiest.

Have ants, assembled over several years with the help of buddies including Lambert, Morris and the Osborne brothers, captures a moment when an artist, appealing to his notes, audibly blossoms with the assurance of having found a voice after years of experimentation with others. People who get by without making a fuss, that’s his subject; his women are suspicious, not tired. Occasionally Have ants softens when the allure of her vanities is about all she has – for example, comparing the cold of a relationship to “Radio silence“, or leave the dull syncopations, the whistled hook and redundant voice filters on”Banshee“Shrivel up the trail into something decidedly non-banshee-esque. Call it the complacency of the metaphor. Hemby is the best on mid-tempo grooves like “New Madrid“, whose acoustic guitars whisper to the rhythm of her memories, and” Pinwheel “, a song deeply indebted to Sheryl Crow as”A change will do you good. “(In fact, Crow co-writer Jeff Trott played a role in both.)

Hemby, married to producer Mike Wrucke, projects the self-confidence of an artist who understands how peer-to-peer collaboration bounces back to the top-rated person’s credit. She helped make Miranda Lambert one of the last ten years most trusted country law; Lambert and other friends return the favor. “I don’t wanna be a hero / I just wanna be a face in the crowd,” she announces in the first track, as if we need to call it back. Thanks to her euphemism on the mic, the women in her songs feel too deep to show those feelings. Remembering the days when she and a lover left clothes on the water’s edge as she “breathed” his kiss into “Air LakeHemby gives each word its weight, as if the memory were a flower pressed between the pages of a favorite book. The generosity of Have ants suggests that she has many more stories to tell.

To buy: Gross trade

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