Published Mar 14, 2014Eliza Gilkyson is a well-established darling of the Austin, Texas folk scene, and this album builds on a long career, and 20 albums, of solid American folk music. Like any good folk record, The Nocturne Diaries explores timely social and political issues, with songs about troubled youth and abuse survivors ("An American Boy," "This House is Not My Home"), but these pieces lack the raw immediacy that makes politically-tinged folk music work.
Highlights of the album include "The Red Rose and the Thorn," with Gilkyson trying (and nailing) her first electric guitar solo, "Touchstone," which brings in that most folky of instruments, the autoharp, and the pared-down final track, "All Right Here," with Gilkyson's voice buoyed up by John Egenes' pedal steel and Weissenborn. While Gilkyson is a prolific songwriter, the best song on this album isn't one of hers. "Where No Monument Stands" is a poem by William Stafford, put to music by fellow folk great John Gorka, that memorializes a field untouched by war. It's a gem of a folk song. (Red House)