Settle down, turn down the lights, and immerse yourself in this stunning debut release.
There are times when an album from an artist who has barely been on your radar pops into your inbox to join the review queue and where from the first few notes, not even bars, you just know it is going to be stunning. That’s exactly how it is with the self-titled debut album from Montana-based Riddy Arman. As soon as the opening track ‘Spirits, Angels,or Lies’ radiates from the speakers you are drawn into the music by Arman’s incredibly incisive lyrics and extremely captivating voice and from then on (thankfully) there is no escape. That opening track, ‘Spirits, Angels,or Lies’, a true story of the delirium suffered in the last moments before Arman’s father passed away, where he hallucinated that Johnny Cash had come to visit, sets the tone for the rest of the album which explores loneliness and isolation but where it never wallows in self-pity, instead it acknowledges the experiences that grow from them as she chronicles the deeply personal stories of her life.
The first single off the album ‘Half a Heart Keychain’ is a perfect example of how Arman distills what could have been easily have been written as a classically sad breakup song and turns it instead into a positive look ahead to the future. Of the track Arman said “This is the first song I wrote after leaving my life in Northern California. My lover came to visit me in Arkansas and I saw this keychain on his truck’s dash. It said ‘Te Amo,’ and it was lying there without the other half. It was the missing piece to intuitions I was already having—So, the song is incredibly literal. When we were in the studio I thought, This might be a heartbreak song, but I’m sure as hell not sad about it. I’ve already forgotten about this guy. Good riddance and goodbye.”
Much of Arman’s songwriting is rooted in the poetic imagery of country life — from the beauty of its simplicity to the isolation and loneliness that can often overtake its inhabitants. She grew up in rural Ohio but has traversed the country, working as a ranch hand and living a farming lifestyle. Written collectively while stationed in the sunburnt hills of California ranch country, during an intensely creative period in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and after relocating to New Orleans following a friend’s passing, the songs on Arman’s debut have allowed her to move forward from some of the most painful moments of her life.
Recorded at Mississippi Studios (which slightly confusingly is actually in Oregon) with a great production effort from Bronson Tew, Arman herself penned eight of the nine songs with the only cover being a very moving version of Kris Kristofferson’s ‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’. It may be a cliché but there aren’t any bad songs on this release and in addition to the opening track look out for ‘Too Late To Write a Love Song’ which was also released as a single. With fierce lyrical honesty and a voice that immediately commands attention, Riddy Arman has crafted a highly impressive debut album. Ignore it at your peril.