Secret Emchy Society “Mark’s Yard: The Campfire Covers” (Independent, 2018)

This is the second full length offering from Oakland, California’s “first lady of queer country” Cindy Emchy and her spirited band of folky musician friends.  As the title suggests it’s an open air politely rambunctious lo-fi acoustic affair set around the campfire captured on a single mic. No less than twelve vocalists are credited on the album accompanied by a couple of guitars, lap steel, mandolin, upright bass and percussion.  Billed as a bourbon and wine-fuelled musical jam cum sing-a-long it aspires to capture the rare magical “post-show jam” atmosphere, the musician’s church, their sacred time. 

The twelve tracks are a mix of tunes mostly penned by Cindy Emchy and her friends plus a Tom Waits cover. The songs are joyously performed with strong vocals from Emchy set against a backdrop of improvised harmonies, humorous interjections and ripples of laughter all sounding very unforced and spontaneous. You can almost smell the wood smoke and hear the crackling of the logs as they breeze through their idiosyncratic “kum ba yah” set.

For fans of Emchy’s previous album and EP and live shows this peek behind the scenes will undoubtedly be well received. The warmth and glow of friends doing what they love best comes across with an engaging community spirit.  What’s not to like about that?

Pull up a log and crack open a beer with the first lady of queer country
6/10

Author: John Vaites

London based musician and music fan.

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