When it comes to good country and Americana music it is less about the style with which the work is produced or the contents of the lyrics, but rather it is about a good understanding of the roots from which they came. The passion with which Amber Cross brings her work to life is a prime example of how country music should be.
Savage on the Downhill is the latest offering from country marvel Cross and it is also one of the most heart-rendingly beautiful albums that she has produced to date. One of the traits that has always been prevalent in Cross’s work is her immutable aptitude to transcend between the subgenres of country. Country music has been around in a variety of guises over the decades and Cross seems to slip effortlessly between them all. She deftly steers her listeners between dancing and jovial melodies that puta spring in your step and the more soft and sombre tunes that reflect the pain and anguish in the world. Her craftsmanship of her songs is absolutely breath-taking as she takes us on a journey as she rows us downstream – with the currents she is navigating you are never truly sure where you are likely to end up next.
Cross has surrounded herself with an interesting collection of music as it errs on the side of being almost soft and subtle compared to the likes of her contemporary country counterparts. Comprising her accompaniment of softly ushered slide guitars, deep and resonant bass lines with subtle drum beats, searing steel guitar and the odd arc of a fiddle medley; there is a whole world hidden within her affair. But even surrounded by these stunning tunes Cross stands as though in the eye of a storm, completely focussing your attention on her. As her sultry American lilt spreads through her songs as soft and golden as honey you find the rest of the world drifting gently out of focus. Her work is commanding and you absorb her every word and yet you can’t help but feel slightly dazed when Savage on the Downhill ends, because you feel as though you have been somewhere else.
Savage on the Downhill is a remarkable album that is jam-packed full of a rich a jubilant set of tunes and a voice that can cut through the heart like a knife goes through butter. With a delicate and yet commanding tone to her work Cross has created a niche album that is worthy of a spot on everyone’s shelf.
Amber Cross · Ireland & UK Tour · April-May 2019
Accompanied by James Moore on guitar & mandolin
Thu 11 Mullingar, Co. Westmeath The Stables at Smiddy’s
Fri 12 Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim The Glens Centre
Sat 13 Roscommon J.J. Harlows
Sun 14 High Wycombe Ramblin’ Roots Revue, Bucks Students’ Union Venue
Mon 15 High Wycombe Kingsmead House Concert
Tue 16 London Green Note
Wed 17 Hebden Bridge The Trades Club
Thu 18 Birmingham Kitchen Garden Café
Tue 23 Liverpool Grateful Fred’s House Concert
Thu 25 Aberdeen The Blue Lamp
Fri 26 Edinburgh Sneaky Pete’s
Sun 28 Bristol The Canteen
Tue 30 Newport Le Pub
Thu 2 Otterton, Devon Otterton Mill
Review by Joe Knipe