By Martin Overheul 09-10-2009
Eliza Lynn Haven

At its worst, music is a source of irritation and aggravation. A mental and physical agony along the deepest depths of the human revulsion. Anyway, by figure of speech because fortunately the on/off button brings consolation. To me bad music can even lead to an aversion for the performer(s). In that respect I should learn to show some more perspective, though I fear it’s too late for that. 

On the other hand, good music often offers comfort, inner peace and stability, and feels like a trusted haven where you can build the home you’re always welcome to, and where people let you be yourself. Like ‘Haven’, the excellent new CD from singer, guitarist, banjo player and ‘red head’ Eliza Lynn from Ashville, New Carolina (yep, once again I am deeply impressed by a red-haired singer). In this carefully-balanced album, her third since her 2005 debut ‘Frisky Or Fair’, the listener is treated to a delicious mixture of country, blues, western swing, folk, and jazz – already defined as Americana, but much broader and deeper than this definition suggests.

On ‘Haven’ Eliza Lynn is assisted by some very fine musicians who have the ability lift up the songs to a higher level. Producer / guitarist Thomm Jutz (Nanci Griffith, Tom Rush, Mary Gauthier) understands Lynn’s songs perfectly and places her voice up front, making it seem as if she’s singing in your living room. And great folks like pedal steel guitarist Robby Turner (Willie Nelson, Tony Joe White), bassist Mark Fain (Ricky Skaggs, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy) and drummer Pat McInerney (David Olney, Emmylou Harris) put the emphasis right where it should lie. This is as classy as classy can get.

High lights? Well, by picking some songs, I feel like I’m doing too much harm to other songs because this album is exceptionally consistent. Anyhow, one way or another, you develop a slight preference for certain songs. ‘Rush Of The Fall’ is such a song. Superb lyrics, laid back, yet sharp. And a beautiful melody. Or the bluesy ‘More’ that links great lyrics to a strong melody. Or the ‘bare’ traditional ‘Be Thou My Vision’ in which Lynn and Jutz dig deep in their musical heart and soul. Trust me, there are no weak songs on this set, this album has so much beauty to offer.

And that is exactly what I mean by a ‘haven’ to come home to: ‘You used to break my fall / And hold me in my pretty dress and let me tell you about it all / while others clapped hands, all I needed were yours / But the feel of your touch I cannot recall anymore / And I’ll Go On, I’ll find my way / Through silent nights with you far away / And at the top of the hill, I should take a deep breath / Cause with the rush of the fall it may be all I have left’. Beautiful ...