Beautiful World

Her lilting voice is a half whisper, her words evocative. At the top of her game, Austinite Eliza Gilkyson adds to her remarkable string of successes with Beautiful World (Red House). Musically, Gilkyson is expanding her palate beyond the usual singer-songwriter fare, leading musicians Mike Hardwick, Cindy Cashdollar, and brother Tony (among others) through a variety of enticing new flavors. Some of these are surprises, like the jazzy “Unsustainable” and the rocker “Dream Lover.” Then there’s “Emerald Street,” which finds Gilkyson fiddling while Rome burns; its peculiar and wondrous optimism somehow bolsters the album’s gritty worldview. The title track echoes this sentiment, the world’s beauty “setting the stage for the folly of man.” Elsewhere, Gilkyson tackles folly head-on. “The Party’s Over” is one last jab at the current administration, and if the metaphor for “Runaway Train” is a bit obvious, then “Great Correction” artfully sums things up: “It’s the bitter end we’ve come down to / The eye of the needle that we gotta get through / But the end could be the start of something new / When the great correction comes.”

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