Kerri Powers – Faith In The Shadows

January 01, 1970

(GrittyDitty)

 

www.grittyditty.com

 

On Faith In The Shadows, Kerri Powers is a story-telling
chronicler of the American Dream deferred. Equal parts honky tonk sweetheart,
confessional folkie, and rocker/blues bad girl Powers sings of the down ‘n’ out
underdog – characters with bruised hearts, self-destructive wanderlust
(occasional emphasis on lust), and unanswered prayers who can’t seem to
get out from behind the eight-ball. 

 

The images throughout the record are well-oiled Americana but never become opportunistic or
trite in Powers’ hands: railroad tracks, TV preachers, Greyhound buses,
alligator boots, fireworks, Remington shotgun shells, lucky pennies, broken
dreams, etc… Her song’s landscapes evoke the similar worlds of artists like
Bruce Springsteen or Gillian Welch. And like them, her language alternates
between the poetic and blue collar. Her view of the people in her songs is
non-judgmental but honest. Most of them are struggling; a few with their own
flaws.

 

The opening track feels lifted from the closing credits of some unknown
Clint Eastwood mystery/western: all twangy distorted electric guitars, steady
backbeat strummed cowboy acoustic, and hovering B3 organ. The details of this
tune live in the shadows. And like many of Eastwood’s recent films, the omitted
detail is what gives the song its power. All we know is something terrible has
been done, and a desperate confrontation is near. Clues are dropped like so
many mirages in the desert: dancing shadows, a found weapon, locked cabin
dead-bolted doors, rationing bullets, lovers’ misunderstanding, etc. With
cryptic lyrics like: “My voice my face/A haunting cold embrace/ Could be your
guilt/Could be my ghost/You’ll never know/You’ll never never know,” Powers
gives the listener lots of directions to go in.

 

Tender, irreverent, and obscured religious references are regulars as
well on Faith In The Shadows. Title character “Magdelene” searches for
Jesus at the Greyhound bus station and steals your heart. In “Tallulah Send A
Car For Me” Powers sings as Tallulah: “Can’t wear my alligator boots in
church/Preacher says all they ever do is drag in dirt/I think I got some
dirt/On his clean white shirt.” She’s all whimsy and sass keeping her
distinctive and plaintive tremolo howl in check. And in “Trying To Make My Way
To You” Powers turns a born-again cliché on it’s head: “Drag my soul to
Galilee/Faith find me/…Call my soul to Galilee/Ooh, faith find me.” She’s
turned the tables: Has she found Jesus? No no no. Has Jesus found her?

 

The second half of Faith In The Shadows is not as strong as the
first. But the weakest link is still pretty strong and the band, including
guitarist/producer and songwriting partner Crit Harmon, is more than solid
throughout. Staying out of the music business, at least partially due to being
“duped by an unscrupulous record distributor,” Powers has been out of the game
for a good while. Faith In The Shadows is strong enough to get her a
spot in the starting lineup.         

 

Standout Tracks: “Do
You Hear Footsteps,” “Nobody Minds My Drinking,” “Shadow Of Someone” JOHN
DWORKIN

 

 

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