Lisa Bastoni ”The Wishing Hour” (Independent, 2017)

lisa-bastoni-2017Lisa Bastoni has been around a while, performing with acclaimed artists such as Little Big Town, Lori McKenna and Regina Spektor. After taking an extended break to have a family, she is back with this amazing record, due to be released early in 2017. With every song penned by her, and a few co-writes, this is a record with the Bastoni stamp all over it, and with much of the recordings being done at home as well as in studios in Nashville and New York, there is a very intimate feel to this record, helped by the excellent production by Felix McTeigue.

The record starts with the upbeat ‘’In This Town’’ and what an introduction it is. The song is so catchy and with Lisa’s beautiful rich vocals it paints a wonderful picture and introduces the record wonderfully. The rest of ‘’The Wishing Hour’’ is more subdued, but in terms of musical styling and the quality of the production and vocals, ‘’In This Town’’ is a fabulous introduction.

‘’It’s The Staying That Hurts’’ is a very different type of song. With heartbreak lyrics beautifully complemented by a slow, swinging rhythm, this is probably the most country that the record gets. Whilst not traditional musically, the values and themes running through the writing is timeless, and with the accordion, acoustic guitar and piano dominating the backing, there is no real musical style that the song heavily leans on, producing a great organic sound which could originate from anywhere.

A songwriting highlight of the record is ‘’Ink And Needles’’ which is  melancholic love song, using the metaphor of tattooing to represent the changes that occur in a relationship and along the path of life. With the writing beginning as Lisa is ‘’bare as the day you were born from your mother’’ through ‘’sketching his designs on me all through the night’’ in a relationship and then the ‘’the body tattoos itself with old age and abuse’’ the writing is incredibly poetic and made all the more powerful by the complementary backing music remaining subdued and dominated by a simple bass and pedal steel.

‘’Shimmies And Shakes’’ is my highlight of the record. Melodically it is perfect with Lisa’s vocals soaring above the gentle percussion and banjo. Again there is a healthy dose of accordion in the backing, creating another song with amazing texture. A lovely gentle rhythm brings a climax in the chorus and the song keeps delivering the melody after waves of musical interludes. When your vocals are as expressive as Lisas it is important to match the quality of the songwriting to capitalise on the advantage, and Lisa does this throughout the record and especially in ‘’Shimmies and Shakes’’.

‘’Rabbit Hole’’ and ‘’Halfway Out Of Michigan’’ are perhaps two of the most sincere songs on ‘’The Wishing Hour’’, with ‘’Rabbit Hole’’ theming on youthful loves and wistful looking back on the good times. ‘’Halfway Out Of Michigan’’ is more complex, with references to the Flint water crisis and the struggling of the people in the previously prosperous part of the country. The emotional delivery is fantastic, and the songwriting has many layers, giving a new train of thought on every listen.

‘’The Wishing Hour’’ is a fantastic record, user-friendly enough to be accessible to the layman but with a variety of textures to pick apart on every listen. I highly recommend it.

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