California singer/songwriter Cindy Lee Berryhill was Americana before the term was coined. Berryhill emerged on the scene in the late '80s as a folk/roots artist with an appealingly quirky sensibility, and her first two albums, Who's Gonna Save the World? and Naked Movie Star, were critical faves.
The owner of a rather quivery vocal delivery, Berryhill earned fans via such witty songs as "Damn I Wish I Were a Man." She put her career on hold for a long time to care for her ailing (and now late) husband Paul Williams, founder of legendary music magazine Crawdaddy, but her return to recording is a welcome one, and The Adventurist, her first album in ten years, shows that her charm and songwriting skills remain intact. Peers lending a hand include DJ Bonebrake (X) and Syd Straw.
Opening track "American Cinematography" features poetic lyrics and an inventive strings arrangement, while "I Like Cats/You Like Dogs" showcases her wry sense of humour. "Somebody's Angel" is a moving reflection on her real-life circumstances, one that uses strings to striking but never overly sentimental effect, while "Affair of the Heart" is similarly powerful. The subtle use of horns, vibraphone, glockenspiel and marimba also adds subtle depth to the sound.
Berryhill's strength as a lyricist is evident on the title track, a Beats-like narrative with scenes like this: "Out of a bar called the Seven Veils, our protagonist still covered in blue staggers through the markets of Tangiers." Her sense of musical adventure is showcased on closing track "Deep Sea Dishing," a gentle instrumental incorporating the sound of a dishwasher. The Adventurist is a compelling record worthy of real attention. (Omnivore)