Artist: Nancy Apple & Friends
Album: Just Love: A Tribute to Audrey Auld Mezera
Label: Reckless Records
Release Date: 10/07/2016
It is both with a heavy heart and tons of admiration that I come to this review. My heavy heart is for Audrey Auld Mezera, a gifted, far under-recognized artist who lost her battle with cancer at the unspeakably young age of 51 last year. My admiration is for producer Nancy Apple, a peer of Audrey’s, and someone I used to share lots of thoughts with back in my radio days. Nancy, to her credit, is a singer/songwriter, producer, promoter and a damn good radio host, as she has hosted her weekly show at Memphis’s WELV for 17 years. I have met both of them on a few occasions, going back mostly to the years of attending SXSW and the Americana Conference. They are two of the most upbeat, positive people I’ve ever met. Audrey, as the lyrics state in “If I Woke Up Dead,” might well be “the greatest star that Nashville never heard.” Fortunately, the music community can sense brilliance, as evidenced by this double CD of 28 tracks by over 40 artists. Audrey’s charisma is memorable to all she touched.
Audrey Auld Mezera was an Australian-American singer/songwriter, who resided at times both in California and Nashville. She released 11 albums and three EPs on her on Reckless Records label, recorded with many other notable musicians, had songs recorded by many and had her songs placed on five different TV shows. Notably, she hosted songwriting workshops with inmates in San Quentin Prison from 2007 until 2013. Every track features a friend or admirer of Audrey Auld. “Missin’ Mez’ is sung by Audrey herself for her husband. Friends Gabe Rhodes, Bill Chambers, Carrie Rodriguez and Wally Dogged joined her on the track. Nancy Apple commented, “Audrey and Mez wrote this song together. Basically, Audrey used some line she got from her beloved husband, Mez. I wanted to include a song with Audrey’s voice. This one not only reminds Mez how much she was loved, but it’s also a shout-out to all of her friends, family and fans, a message that Audrey loved them.”
Apple chose to premiere the tribute album at the 2016 Woody Guthrie Folk Festival in Okemah, OK where Audrey was a well-loved regular. The CD was the highest selling project at the festival, and for good reason. There’s poignancy, a cool sense of humor and directness in Auld’s writing that few can match. Although it’s rather difficult to select the key tracks on this massive tribute, try these for starters: “One Eye Open” (Terry “Buffalo” Ware), “I’d Leave Me too” (Ronnie Elliott), “Forty” (Candace Nache & Nancy Apple), “We Cry” (Grant Peebles) and “Just Love,” done twice by Susan Herndon and then by Sky Shook. Also, be sure to check the aforementioned “Missing Mez” and “If I Woke Up Dead.” In addition, “Woody” (Doug Jayne), “Nashville #2” (Anne McCue & Eamon McLoughlin) and “Hole in My Life” (Candace Mache). Do yourself a further favor: go back and listen to some albums from Audrey’s impressive catalog. That’s what I’m doing after listening to this.