Mare Wakefield and her husband Nomad have been a fixture on the folk and Americana music circuit for years, which is why it is no surprise that their latest album of 12 original songs is so damn good. They capture the depth and authenticity of the genre but put a playful, unique stamp on it. I could listen to songs like “The Day We buried Moma (& cousin Bobby Joe get wed)” and “The Boxer and the Beauty Queen” all day long.
Recorded in their Nashville studio, “Time to Fly” is backed by Will Kimbrough on guitar, Wes Little on drums, Brian Allen on bass and some special guests like fiddle-player Eamon McLoughlin on “I Will Not Be Broken”, vocalist Bobby Holland and guitarist Mike Waldron on “Closer to God”, and Greg Foresman on electric and acoustic guitars on “With Your Heartbeat”. The musical gifts of this stellar lineup show on every song.
The album kicks off with “Real Big Love”, a real big song that moves and grooves and smiles and grins with a fast tempo and an accordion solo by Nomad. The band slows things down as it moves to the big, round, county/pop framed “Breathe” and then onto the title track with its addictive guitar strum that backs Mare’s rainbow voice full of emotional breathiness and solid melodic storytelling.
“Land of the Free” picks up the pace while Mare’s voice turns southern and the lyrics, written during the 2016 presidential campaign, turn political, Mare explains the song, “ I heard a radio news story about a Trump supporter who punched a protester in the face at a rally saying, ‘He deserved it. He was acting un-American’”. I decided to try and write a song from his perspective, so different from my own, in an attempt at fostering a bit of empathy during such a divisive time.”
A highlight of the album is “Bernice and Bernadette”, derived from childhood stories of her grandmother Bernadette and her friend Bernice and their love. Highlighted by Nomad’s piano, Mare tells the story with care and a smile so that it both sparkles and runs deep.
Mare brings us back to her country roots with a rollicking “Henry” about her favorite local diner and funny stories she makes up about the staff. The humor continues with the Cab-Calloway styled “The Boxer and the Beauty Queen”, inspired by a prize fighter and a beauty queen on a local TV talk show. The two never talked on the show but that didn’t stop Mare Wakefield from making up a story about them, and Nomad from arranging that story into a song with a bit of tongue in check.
The fun continues in the upbeat “The Day We Buried Mama (and cousin Bobby Joe got wed)” – a true story about the day of Mare’s mother’s funeral that took Mare nineteen years to write. Full of fun and energy it’s a song about turning a lemon in country lemonade. She moves onto “I will Not Be Broken”, a defiant statement against terrorism, and “Closer to God”, a lighthearted observation about being in a dark church on Easter Sunday morning when it is a beautiful day outside. Mare admits that her preacher father would not have liked this song so much, but she just couldn’t help herself.
The album ends with “Falling”, a perfect showcase for Mare’s voice and storytelling. Singing about her childhood. Given that her childhood was spent traveling – she had lived in eight different places by the age of ten. The altogether-too-fast lessons she sings about in “Falling” leave us all tapping our toes and thinking, exactly what Mare Wakefield and Nomad do best.