I often tell people that I could see myself living in only two places. The first place is where I currently reside, Chicago proper, a place that never seems to stop making noise; ever. The other place I could see myself living is somewhere in the country, say the driftless area of western Wisconsin, a place where you could actually see stars at night and the pace of life would be slow and easy. I was reminded of this latter place to call home as I listened to Athens, Ohio singer/songwriter Megan Bee’s latest record Like a Canyon. It is the follow-up to her 2015 release A Sense of Place.
Like a Canyon opens with the title track, a slow and acoustic bit of dreamy folk and Americana. But it’s not so much the acoustic sounds of the guitar that catch one’s attention. Rather it is Bee’s scenicly-lovelorn vocals and the deeply enigmatic portraits she paints with her lyrics that really make these songs come into perfect view.
On the opener Bee sings such picturesque lyrics as “Color me like a canyon / and let the red and green and blues run down my legs / Color me like a canyon / Color me like a canyon and keep me in your eyes.” Later she say,s “Color me like the New Mexico sky / when the ebony and the lavender collide.” It’s when one realizes this is a love song that its synonyms become even more powerful.
Next comes the earthly and beautiful “Little Birdie” which fully captures the natural warmth that Bee’s songs possess. The song hits on themes of naturalism which was to me refreshing but to the largesse will probably seem a bit odd.
She could easily be another run of the mill singer/songwriter writing half assed lyrics about a love affair that probably wasn’t as sad as it sounds and probably relies heavily on the same verbs and adjectives and pronouns that everyone who thinks they know how to write a song would rely on. But listen then to “Late 70s Ford” and tell me that this is your typical singer/songwriter. Then on songs like “53 Years” and later the slow and soothing “That’s Enough” and one begins to recognize the raw talent at work here.
Listening to Like a Canyon is like watching a master painter’s brushstroke, slowly shaping the blank canvas into a masterpiece. No matter where or how you live, these songs will open your eyes to the beauty of the natural world.
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