Album Reviews

Cindy Lee Berryhill

The Adventurist

Artist:     Cindy Lee Berryhill

Album:     The Adventurist

Label:     Omnivore Records

Release Date:     03/10/2017

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The healing process continues for Cindy Lee Berryhill, the widow of Crawdaddy magazine founder Paul Williams, who passed away in 2013. Williams suffered a traumatic brain injury from a bicycling accident and his health steadily deteriorated. With The Adventurist, her first album since 2007’s Beloved Stranger, Berryhill is putting herself out there again, with a highly personal set of songs that defy easy categorization.

Employing rich cello and violin, warm glockenspiel, mellow vibraphone and rolling marimba to wonderfully unique effect throughout, the singer-songwriter-guitarist crafts a plain-spoken, affectionate and often lighthearted tribute to her husband and the life they shared. Wistful and bittersweet, but never maudlin, The Adventurist deals honestly and artfully with themes of love and loss, transition and doubt – Berryhill’s lyrics brimming with emotional intelligence and evocative language.

As the sparse folk-rock and full-bodied strings of a heartrending “Somebody’s Angel” saw away, Berryhill attempts to reconcile her longing for a new meaningful relationship and her sense of loyalty as a still-grieving wife. Awash in chamber-pop melancholy, “Gravity Falls” and “Thanks Again” are alluring, while the light cocktail jazz of a whimsical title track and breezy—if somewhat world-weary—charms of “I Like Cats/You Like Dogs,” “Deep Sea Fishing” and “The Heavy” act as summery mood elevators.

Influenced by Brian Wilson’s ambitious pop artistry, Berryhill enlisted Syd Straw, X’s DJ Bonebrake, David J. Carpenter from Dead Rock West and Probyn Gregory and Nelson Bragg from Wilson’s own band, among others, to bring The Adventurist to life. It seems she’s ready to embark on a new chapter in her own existence.

—Peter Lindblad

 

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