Land of Milk and Honey
First Appeared at The Music Box, April 2004, Volume 11, #4
Written by John Metzger
Eliza Gilkyson opens Land of Milk and Honey, her ninth studio outing, with a bucolic, country-tinged tune titled Hiway 9, and her easy-going approach belies the fact that her lyrics protest the Bush Administrationís oil-fueled agenda and urge her fans take matters into their own hands by voting in the Fall election. Likewise, she concludes the album with a genteel rendition of Woody Guthrieís Peace Call, which rallies together those who wish to see an end to war. In between, she relays the story of a recovering alcoholic junkie drifter who settled down and became her good friend and production manager (Dark Side of Town), and she sings of both teen suicide bombers as well as polluted swimming holes (Tender Mercies) with genuine despair.
However, in comparison with the tale told in Ballad of Yvonne Johnson, the bulk of Land of Milk and Honey is comprised of light-hearted fare. Indeed, Gilkysonís tragic account of this young girlís lifelong encounter with drugs, alcohol, sexual abuse, and murder is disturbingly chilling, and itís made even more so when one realizes that the song is not a work of fiction, but a product of a collaboration with the tuneís subject. The pain and anguish of a horrific life cling to Gilkysonís world-weary vocals, and the music circles around her like a flock of hungry vultures before transforming into a multitude of doves that offer hope that the cycle of violence will cease to exist.
Occasionally, Gilkyson does lose the thread of socio-political issues that binds together the songs on Land of Milk and Honey, turning instead to more personal reflections on life and love. Indeed, itís an odd juxtaposition, but itís also one that becomes necessary to provide at least some respite from the darkness lurking within her probing lyrics. Ĺ
Land of Milk and Honey is available
from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box