Adrienne Young has delved deep into the collective soul to find inspiration for her new cd, 'Room To Grow'. True to her post-modern blending of country, folk, pop and bluegrass woven throughout her first two cds, this sustainable agriculture champion dons modern spectacles through which to view timeless questions, choosing traditional instruments to communicate her contemporary compositions, joining forces with uber rockers Mike Gordon and Will Kimbrough, among others.
Adrienne Young has the banjo skills to make a bluegrass disc with the best of them. But on her third album, she largely trades in the string-band sound that characterized her previous efforts for a more straightforward folk-pop approach. As the lead track proclaims, this is "All for Good," and Room to Grow
turns out to be a confidently self-produced work of both personal and artistic maturity. On first listen, Young's opener might seem to be a page out of Candide
, with its refrain "all that is here is for good." But the song's lyric "struggle is perfect" is a clue to Young's larger themes. Besides that of nature, most purely celebrated here by "River and a Dirt Road," the album gives an inescapable feeling, not exactly of hope or optimism, but of sweet surrender: surrender not to defeat but to the idea of fully living one's life by "relinquishing control," as Young sings in "Giving Up the Fight," and concentrating on the here and now. "All this worryin' about what's to come/Don't amount to nothin' when it's said and done," says Young in "In Between the Heartbeats," and "It's a flyin' leap from birth to death/Gotta treat each moment like a special guest." And though "we all outgrow the skin we're in," as she sings on the title track--along with "All for Good," the high point of a record that should bring Young the acclaim she richly deserves--"we can weave, we can mend/Stitch by stitch, row by row/Making sure there's room enough to grow." One does wish she and her cowriters (longtime collaborator Will Kimbrough and Mark D. Sanders--who penned, among other country #1s, Lee Ann Womack's "I Hope You Dance") had included two more originals in favor of otherwise admirable Joni Mitchell and Dusty Owens covers, as they are obviously self-sufficient. But that doesn't diminish the force of this resounding, album-length carpe diem
. --Benjamin Lukoff
NOTE: The Save a Seed Fund has been "founded by Adrienne Young and AddieBelle Music, in conjunction with the American Community Garden Association, to promote continued efforts to preserve all aspects of our collective heritage. AddieBelle Music will donate a portion of the proceeds from each copy of Room to Grow
sold to a seed fund which will provide non-genetically modified seeds and support for urban and community gardens throughout the United States and Canada."