Kim Richey, Darden Smith

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Editorial Review

By Geoffrey Himes
Friday, April 12, 2013

Kim Richey takes a big gamble by devoting her entire new album, “Thorn in My Heart,” to one mood: world-weary melancholy. The narrators in these 12 songs are burdened by troubled relatives, stuck in towns far from home, abandoned by lovers, guilty of adultery, groping for love, drinking away a broken heart and eagerly awaiting death. In every case, they respond to their situations with slow, aching regret.

The gifted Nashville singer-songwriter has straddled the mainstream and alternative-country worlds, writing for the former and recording for the latter. On this release, her first album in three years, she documents adulthood’s second thoughts and last chances with undeniable skill and occasional brilliance, but she doesn’t allow the other aspects of life to break the monochromatic mood.

Even a song that promises “Everything’s Gonna Be Good” is delivered at a minimalist crawl and declares that the narrator just pulled her head “out of the hangman’s noose.” And when the music’s happy, as on the bouncy banjo tune “I’m Going Down,” the lyrics speak of getting away from everyone because she’s “sinking like a stone.” Nonetheless, such songs as “Something More” and “Love Is” are so eloquent in words and music that they powerfully echo every listener’s wrestling match with doubt.