An album of many virtues and considerable beauty.
Michael Quinn 2008
Singer-songwriter (and actor, playwright, author and artist) Kimmie Rhodes has to be one of America's great musical secrets. Since recording her first album at the invitation of Willie Nelson in what now seems like an eternity ago –1981, to be precise – she has collaborated with vast swathes of America's musical royalty. Besides Nelson, she has written, played and sung with Waylon Jennings, Emmylou Harris, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Townes Van Zandt and Kris Kristofferson. And yet her profile in the UK (despite a 12-venue tour this past April) remains stubbornly less than she deserves.
Walls Fall Down is her twelfth offering on disc and may be her best yet, packed to the brim as it is with impeccably crafted songs delivered with a winning blend of laid-back take-it-or-leave-it savoir-faire and good old-fashioned Texan cussedness.
Subject matter for the nine self-penned songs is characteristically wide-ranging, moving from the dreamy, bluegrass-tinged title track – imagine Neil Young covering a Tom Petty ballad! – via the jagged-as-a-cactus politics of Your Majesty through to album closer Last Seven Seconds, which has an easy-going McCartney-like elegance to it; never has Armageddon sounded so sweetly welcoming.
McCartney's own The Fool On The Hill is one of three covers here. Delivered in Rhodes' breathy, cracked-porcelain voice, it errs a little too heavily on the side of detached observation, but shimmers and shines nonetheless with a likable delicacy. Rodney Crowell's Sex & Gasoline is cleverly subverted with a deliciously sassy knowingness, and Townes Van Zandt's If I Needed You sounds like a rocking-chair-on-the-porch-at-twilight confessional, delectable and disturbing in equal measure.
Production values throughout (co-helmed by Rhodes and her multi-instrumentalist son, Gabriel) are distinguished by a gently understated sophistication that marks this out as an album of many virtues and considerable beauty.