Having grown up in North Yorkshire, but also spending time in Arizona, would bring two contrasting worlds to the young Elaine Palmer. On one side is the green, rainy, hilly world of England and on the other is the arid, warm, sandy landscape of Phoenix, so it’s with no real surprise that her latest release, ‘The Land In Between’ is made up of two contrasting moods of music.
Yet the album never feels disjointed.
There is a hint of Alanis Morrisette and Stevie Nicks here and there, but in the gentler moments, there are songs that lay bare the vulnerability and openness of someone totally at ease with her craft.
Songs like ‘Go’, ‘Just One’, ‘Heading Back West’ and radio-ready ‘Oh My Oh My’ will appeal to those who like their country to have a toe-tapping backline, and on initial listening, these are the songs that stand out and will ‘sell’ the album, but there is a deeper connection to be found in the stripped backtracks.
‘The Mill House’, ‘Once A Mother’ and ‘Laughter Lines’ (with the killer line “too much money but not enough brains”) show a songwriter who is unafraid of letting her guard down. These songs feel intimate as if there is a private party for just you and deserve repeat listening.
At only nine songs, the album does feel a little short, but then it gives you time to digest the music properly, it’s unrushed and full of intelligent choices musically that enables the songs to be interesting but also allowing the lead vocal to take centre stage. Palmer’s voice can be gentle and knowing, giving gravity to the calmer moments, but then it can go into rock mode and add bite when needed.
You get the impression that she is someone happy being on the outside (she sings that she rarely sits in crowds), her music to be enjoyed by those that make the effort to find her, but on this display, she should be reaching a far larger audience.