It’s something of a mystery that Eliza Gilkyson
hasn’t gotten the name recognition of fellow singer-songwriters like Lucinda Williams or Patty Griffin. Since signing to Red House Records in 2000, the Austin-based Gilkyson has released five neo-folk albums that boast some of the best writing to be found among the alt-country crowd. On Your Town Tonight
, her first live CD, Gilkyson garnishes some of her best songs (along with a smattering of covers) with a warmth that’s sometimes missing from their studio counterparts. Framed in the bright, resonant tone of her Gibson Hummingbird
(she also plays a J-45
), Gilkyson sounds at one with her audience, singing in a voice that’s both honeyed and weathered. The candlelit, acoustic-based accompaniment of her longtime road band adds to the effect. High points on the disc include “Rose of Sharon,” an Old Testament-inspired love tale on which Gilkyson’s plucked guitar and fireside vocals form a tangled thing of beauty; “Tender Mercies,” a harrowing mother’s lament that brings to mind John Kennedy’s famous line about all nations cherishing their children’s futures; and “Green Fields,” a cover of a 1962 hit—written by Gilkyson’s father, Terry Gilkyson—that’s part celebration of spirit and part environmental warning. Indeed, as a child of the ’60s, 57-year-old Gilkyson presents both the introspective and the activist sides of the folk tradition with subtlety and grace. For a free MP3 download of Eliza Gilkyson's "The Lights of Santa Fe", click here.