Recently seen in the UK as a solo performer touring with Joe Purdy, Lydia Ramsey’s debut album Bandita is an enticing combination of folk and country that sparkles as modern Americana. Here backed by a full band Ramsey presents a collection of songs of crystal clarity, sung with such warmth and, more often than not, a vocal that conveys a half smile and a knowing wink – as on Springtime where she makes an offer that can’t be refused “so come over, I’ll leave the light on and be waiting by the open door / I’ll tell you sweetly that I want to do things that have never been done before”. Lydia Ramsey embraces life, and makes it fun.
The key song of the album is given away early – Ghosts explores Ramsey’s family tree musically. Ghosts is hypnotic and slightly Americana-gothic, but not in a dark way it’s just steeped in long years as lives flick in and out of focus. It weaves in stories of ancestors, taking in loners, seamstresses, farmers and revivalist preachers who share some common traits. They love to talk into the night, they play the fiddle, they write songs. The warp and weft of these lives form the tapestry of Lydia Ramsey’s personal history – or, as puts it more succinctly in the songs wistful coda “and making love brought me here today”. Dreamy Eyes is a beautifully gentle love song, jouncing along with a rail-road clickety-clack but sweetened with woozy waves of pedal steel. Lydia Ramsey sings purely and simply of love – and a love that is pure and simple – with an appealing openness. It’s a song that touches on a happy and freely shared passion “hey there dreamy eyes / come a little bit closer to my side / and in the morning light / come a little bit closer to my side / and in the dead of night / come a little bit closer to my side”. You can hear Lydia Ramsey’s smile in her vocal, a heart full of joy and a joy listen to, and it’s this sentiment that helps to make this such a beautiful track. It’s also incredibly catchy – you’ll be humming it all day.
When Lydia Ramsey writing comes close to exploring the musicians life – the endless road – it’s with the same open-eyed wonder she approaches life with. There are no complaints here, rather the reverse “how I long for my days on the road” she sings, although it’s clear that she’s reflecting also on travel in company – and travel in love. Album closer Night after night reflects again on love, this time tinged with the sadness of separation “night after night it doesn’t matter what I do” she sings sweetly before, with a half catch in the voice adding “I fall asleep thinkin’ of you”. It’s a lovely sadness, bearable only because there is a sense that the separation is not forever.
Lydia Ramsey is a version of the triple threat – lovely finger picking, a gorgeous voice that you could listen to all day and beautiful songs. Lydia Ramsey may be the Bandita, but the only thing she’s stealing is your love for her music.