Raisin’ Dust is veteran singer/songwriter Liane Edwards’ seventh album and she still sings and plays with the inspiration of someone just starting off on their careers/ The dozen songs on this latest release, however, offer strong evidence of the progress she’s made since first emerging two decades ago. This seasoned road performer cuts spectacularly live vocals on recordings and has a sure instinct for knowing what exactly will get over with listeners. She has a sizable fanbase, but Raisin’ Dust clearly shows she’s still hungry for converts and there’s little doubt she will win over many new fans based on the quality of this release. All the elements are here and the production gives her a dramatic platform to get these songs over. She takes full advantage of the opportunity.
“Rainy Day” is an impressive tune from first hearing and, judged in context of the album as a whole, ranks as one of Raisin’ Dust’s most notable pieces of songwriting. Edwards has an effortless talent for riding the sleek, energetic arrangements characterizing many of the songs on this collection. Guitarist Brian Wooten summons up one of his many voices on guitar with his languid twang on the song “Hush” and Edwards matches it quite well with elongated, lightly theatrical phrasing. These sort of songs are part of country music’s standard fare, but they never sound like business as usual in Edwards’ hands. “Drive” has enormous energy with its tightly coiled shuffle, but Edwards mixes it up with some dramatic pauses and vocal crescendos that give it even more juice. Theatricality raises its head on the song “Borrowed Time” as well. This is a perfectly orchestrated song with just the right amount of playing to fill out its deliberate, patient development. This is, likewise, one of the best vocal performances from Edwards and has a deeply resonant emotional quality.
The banjo spiked shuffle of “Puppet Master” has a vocal melody strongly conforming itself to the arrangement. This is a sometimes ill advised move for a song, but it works well here thanks to the expert vocal touch Edwards brings to the tune. “Gypsy Bone” is a surprising turn in the way she uses a jazz-like style to get the song over with her audience. Edwards has just the right of authenticity and panache to make this a particular winner. The sparkling acoustic guitar and light percussion on “Beautiful Thing” is another stylistic turn that works without missing a beat and her singing has a crystalline loveliness that everyone will enjoy. There’s a definite ominous touch casting a shadow over the track “Take Me to The Country”, but it’s counterpointed with some flashes of vivid acoustic guitar and an Edwards vocal exploring just the right range of her natural talents. The concluding number on Raisin’ Dust, “Out of the Blue”, is a final display of her considerable strengths and the bright burning musical talent surrounding her through this release. The guitar work is especially tasty – there’s nothing inherently intricate about the playing, but the articulation and tightly wound musicality is stunning. Raisin’ Dust has something for everyone and Edwards is working at the same high level that’s characterized her entire career.