By Kai Shuart
In the interest of full journalistic disclosure, I have to say that I know Melody Walker—the artist behind this CD—personally; I had the privilege of playing with her many times when we were both attending Humboldt State University and seeing her talent grow from her early days playing at Muddy Waters. We remain great friends to this day.
However, that does not diminish the fact that this is an outstanding record. The opening title track, “Gold Rush Goddess” intertwines the earthy images of dynamited mountains and the lusty image of a woman dancing for money and melds them into a cohesive allegory for exploitation, as evidenced in the lyric “Come down off that mountain/come down all you men/but don’t you come knockin’ without money in your hand.”
This does not mean that the entire album is meant to be taken as seriously. “Family Band” is a sing-along if there ever was one, with images of a traveling band lifted straight out of Willie’s “On the Road Again.” She seems to know very well that this song will be a concert staple in the future, as she put the chord progression and lyric sheet in the CD packaging (yeah, I tried to play it) for the edification of the listener.
The cover material is well-chosen and inventively arranged. Blondie’s new wave classic “Dreaming” is dressed up in mandolins (gracefully provided throughout the entire album by partner Jacob Groopman) and acoustic guitars, taking the song from its CBGB roots and turning it into something not out of character for the likes of Steve Earle or Lucinda Williams.
In summary, Gold Rush Goddess is an album from an artist that not only knows her roots are in the American soil, but isn’t afraid to shake that soil off and have a good time.
Gold Rush Goddess will be released in March 2012. For more on Melody Walker, please check out her website.