Kristy Cox - Let It Burn

Billy Blue Records


The first time I streamed this album, I was puttering around the house, listening not-too-closely to what I thought was somewhat good bluegrass music. It quickly dawned on me that this album was much more than just good. From the dynamic opening title tune, I was hooked. The greatest strength of LET IT BURN is its sequencing. Each of the tracks flow together beautifully and are incredibly effective. This is most evident with Front Porch Of Paradise followed by Some Things Don’t Go TogetherAside from Kristy Cox’s jaw-dropping vocal stylings, each song on here offers sharp lyricism, irresistible hooks and a needed eclectic perspective that’s often overlooked in the genre as a whole. Of course, it takes more than merely stating a case to prove their prowess, and as a result, with every track that follows, Kristy and her skilled session players demonstrate that they possess the effusive energy, high harmonies, instrumental dexterity, skill and savvy that provides the very essence of their timeless technique. With arrangements that regale with a cascade of fiddles, banjos, mandolins, guitars and impeccable harmonies, this is inevitably pure bluegrass at its best.

Kristy seems to have come up with a pretty foolproof formula for this, her ninth album. The multi-award-winning Australian artist moved to Nashville a little over ten years ago and has embraced bluegrass much like a fish takes to water. Working again with producer Jerry Salley and a crack team of bluegrass pickers, she fortifies her sound with florid melodies and soaring vocals. Sally Flatt, a kind of up-tempo murder ballad, first recorded by Honi Deaton in 2003, tells the story of a pregnant unmarried mountain girl and her lover, chased by her angry father, whose life comes to a tragic end. Banjo and fiddle lead the chase carried along by Kristy’s edgy driving vocal for a vibrant toe-tapping grasser. In My Dreams, a hushed ballad, is an utterly alluring duet with John Meador, with lyrics of longing that speak to a deeper, sought-after human connection and understanding.

To her credit, she also tackles two well-chosen country covers that fit the tone and tempo of the album overall—Dolly Parton’s Steady As The Rain and Liz Rose’s The Wrong Girl—both of which are given distinctive and impeccable bluegrass readings. The latter, a country hit for Lee Ann Womack, is a clever warning to a man to look no further than his own backyard for true romance. Kristy and the band rev up this lesser known country gem with driving fiddle, Dobro and banjo. She also takes the reins for a gallop through Steady As The Rain, a 1979 hit for Stella Parton, as she ups the tempo and shucks its post break-up heartfelt lyrics with a driving passion. There’s also a trio of upbeat songs designed to raise the spirits. The buoyant Some Things Don’t Go Together is a  rambunctious break-up song full of joyful positivity, and Front Porch Of Paradise finds Kristy in a contented state of mind as she reflects on a life full of family, familiar surroundings and ‘heaven’s spirit whispering in the breeze.’ She maintains the same stance with the album closer, How Lucky Am I, a gentle song of love affirmation co-written by former Statler Brother Jimmy Fortune, who also adds his fine tenor to Kristy’s exquisite lead vocal.

May 2024