Published Apr 10, 2015Anyone looking for easy listening, or easy answers, should not turn to Terra Lightfoot. This badass, unfussy songstress (who bears no relation to the beloved elder troubadour Gordon Lightfoot) opens her sophomore album, Every Time My Mind Runs Wild, with "All Alone." The song features Lightfoot's blistering guitar riffs and calloused vocals as she sings lines like "Stay for another day" to a lover that threatens to leave her. Lightfoot's tone isn't pleading or melancholy on those lyrics, though; she's terse, demanding, as if she's impatiently attempting to reason with a poor fool.
The LP's other early tracks boast equal swagger. On "Never Will," Lightfoot's guitar and voice, along with Joel Haynes' drumming, rev like a vintage hot rod's engine. "See You In the Morning" has equally unrelenting instrumentation, and on "See You in the Morning," she sings: "Now your hungry hands are searching me up and down / I'm insatiable when it comes to you love," letting the word "insatiable" rumble like a roar. Meanwhile, on "No Hurry," she sings about "suffering consequences" before adding that she "wouldn't have it any other way."
Throughout, Haynes complements Lightfoot with drums that are every bit as sturdy and confident as her lyrics, meshing well with Lightfoot's grooving guitar and some intermittent piano plinking (courtesy of Liam O'Neil of the Stills fame) that gleams like neon. The result is a cross between Joan Jett and Bob Seger in their '80s heyday, without any of the sudsy production that diluted some of that era's best songwriting. Instead, Lightfoot sounds like a no-frills contemporary of those early AM radio rockers.
But Every Time My Mind Runs Wild changes abruptly in its last quarter. The earlier driving rhythms recede on "NFB," the ninth of 11 tracks. It features a lilting guitar riff from Lightfoot, which she complements with an unflinchingly confident performance and some clever lyrics about watching movies at the theatre, despite not having "the courage to act out" the feelings she has for her date because she needs "some time to learn [her] lines." The LP's closing number, "Splinter," is a piano ballad with moaning, mournful singing that hems too close to Sarah McLachlan, but it's saved by the abrupt pauses in O'Neil's piano playing during some of Lightfoot's key lyrics, giving the song some much needed rawness.
A few more midtempo numbers in between, or a different sequencing that mixed the soft and louder more deftly, might have been beneficial, but having the softer songs on this LP aptly showcases her versatility, and she strikes the perfect balance on "Emerald Eyes," which features delicate acoustic guitar playing and hushed vocals from Lightfoot. There's subdued anger in her singing, as she all but sneers at a ne'er-do-well lover: "this gets older and older each time your lips shape the excuse." She'd do well to save more of such tough, bullshit-averse lyricism for her acoustic tunes, instead of saving them all for the rollicking rockers. (Sonic Unyon)