All bitter, no sweet

The title of Kim Richey’s previous album, Bitter Sweet, was indicative of its content. As mentioned in the Notebook’s 1997 year-end issue, the album contained sweet songs about bitter subjects.

With Glimmer, Richey has done away with the sweetness, and some the remaining bitterness borders on dark and angry.

“Other Side of Town,” for instance, sports some barely-contained sarcasm. “You can come out, now, the coast is clear/Old ghosts don’t run around here/No loose ends to tie you down,” Richey sings, later warning, “Careful you don’t go so far/You lose the best of who you are.”

“You remember the way it never was,” Richey accuses on “The Way It Never Was.” “You’ve forgotten the things we didn’t say/If you miss me the reason is because/You remember the way it never was.”

Even Richey’s music turns dark. “Can’t Lose Them All” starts off with a minor key hook uncharacteristic of most Nashville artists, and the last half of the album is dominated by a series of quiet, plaintive songs.

Richey’s clear soprano, backed by these more introspective tunes, could fit her a slot on Lilith Fair, perhaps even replacing the festival’s headliner. If Sarah McLachlan spent less time being precious, she’d probably sound more like Kim Richey.

Glimmer’s slick production by superstar pop producer Hugh Pagdamn positions Richey to be something like a Nashville version of McLachlan. There’s not a pedal steel guitar to be found on the entire disc.

It’s an interesting gamble from one of Nashville’s strongest songwriters.