Proper Records (label)
22 October 2012 (released)
08 October 2012
In 2004 and 2005, Matraca Berg was nominated for induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, making her one of the youngest nominees in history. For a singer and writer in her forties, it underlined what an impact she had had on the country music scene, writing hits for the likes of Reba McEntire, Suzy Bogguss and Deana Carter. After those initial nominations, Berg was eventually inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008.
Soon after she decided to get back to writing for herself – and after an unproductive decade or more, Berg is becoming almost prolific. This is her second release in almost two years, coming off the back of 2011's The Dreaming Fields.
You should never judge a book by its cover, but albums can often tell you what to expect. Here Berg is sat in jeans and white teeshirt on the front seat of a truck - all very country. And as it turns out, the album is laced with traditional Nashville sounds.
Berg is best when she gets all moody and reflective, like on the haunting post Gulf of Mexico oil spill ballad Black Ribbons. There is a great Blues feel to the bitter I Buried Your Love Alive, while the delicate Her Name Is Mary tells the sorry story of a tattooed woman who has "too many lines for her age".
The album was put together with a small team of friends and fellow musicians and invited guests include Kim Carnes and country legend Emmylou Harris, who sings on Magdalene, a song inspired by Berg’s work with a charity that helps prostitutes come off the game and integrate properly with society.
A talented singer songwriter with real pedigree, Berg is maybe pretty low profile on UK country music fans' radar, but this album might just help her reach a wider audience.