Eliza Gilkyson, – Hard Times in Babylon – (RedHouse Records 2000)
By Ellen Rawson
Eliza Gilkyson, probably best known for her late ‘80s hit, “Calling All Angels,” skirts various musical genres: singer-songwriter, country/bluegrass, and New Age. Slide guitar and dobro give songs such as “Beauty,” “Engineer Bill,” and “Baby’s Waking” a country feel, but “Coast,” with its simple musical accompaniment (merely acoustic guitar, bass, and accordion) fits in more with the singer-songwriter tradition.
Her lyrics also make this release difficult to categorize or pigeonhole. There’s a religious tone to “Sanctuary,” but it seems more philosophical than preachy. And then there’s “Flatline,” with confessional-style verses half sung/spoken in a deep, smoky voice.
With the exception of “In My Dreams,” Gilkyson mostly explores her lower register on this album. To be honest, that range well suits the material chosen for it. Primarily and foremost, Hard Times in Babylon is a contemplative exploration of loss and sadness. In many ways, Hard Times in Babylon is a simple album. It isn’t overproduced, and it isn’t gimmicky. While it ends with the hopeful “Sanctuary,” it’s not necessarily an upbeat production. However, it is honest. As she openly admits in “You Can Walk A way from Love,” probably one of the album’s more radio-friendly songs, “I don’t trust the world of man but I still believe in love.”