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Eliza Gilkyson

    Eliza Gilkyson
    Hard Times in Babylon
    2000, Red House Records

Eliza Gilkyson sometimes sounds like she’s singing through clinched teeth, her singing is just so tough, and her literate songs blare out like a prophet crying in the wilderness. The album’s title track is an autobiographical sketch about a fellow musician. In it, Gilkyson struggles with her inability to keep her loved ones out of harm’s way, like the trouble that found its way into the life of her drummer friend. But while Gilkyson cries for her friend’s wrong choices, she’s also not afraid to reveal her own flaws. All romantic couples are comprised of two imperfect people, since perfection is nonexistent within human beings. The song "Twisted" speaks of how she is messed up and twisted, yet still desires a man who is a little closer to perfection than she. It’s with more than a little irony that she opens her song "Highway" with the line "At the end of the golden age when hearts have been broken." This is Babylon, remember, and not any kind of a halcyon utopia—a place where broken hearts are more of a rule than an exception. Nevertheless, this album also reveals a search for peace of mind, whether it be through a trip to the solitude of the ocean, as expressed in "Coast," or the comfort of truly devoted love—the kind exemplified in "Sanctuary.” Gilkyson has that rare quality of being an overt skeptic, yet is still one who puts all her hope in the potential of love to overcome overwhelming odds. But much like our recent presidential election, the results of her search won’t be known right away. These may be hard times in Babylon, but Gilkyson has a strong heart—strong enough to survive almost any obstacle.—Dan MacIntosh

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