Whenever I’ve seen Kim Carson in the past, it’s been the bawdy songs that grabbed me first. She’s always had a way with a socially irresponsible lyric, pulling off songs like “I Only Like You When I’m Drinking” and “Tequila Makes My Clothes Fall Off” with a sly wink. Less familiar are her skills as a country balladeer, but that’s what you hear on this disc: It’s less about the bad behavior that can follow heartbreak and more about the heartbreak itself.
The album is also a travelogue of sorts, as the singer first reunites with a lover in “San Antonio Again,” hits the New Orleans bars while her partner’s “Out in California,” gets lonely by the ocean in “Missing You,” heads down “The Road to Abilene” on her own, and says no to a rebound relationship on “Vaya con Dios” (an original that puts a wry lyrical twist on the old Les Paul/Mary Ford hit). From the sound of things, she winds up in Nashville, because the closing “Shine” is a commercial, contented love song that can hold up with the catchiest things on country radio.
But the album was indeed made in Texas, and the accordions, harmonica and wailing steel add the regional feel. The production (by Tommy Delamore and Carson) keeps the vocals up front, and it’s the vulnerable moments—“Missing You” and “Road to Abilene,” both largely drum-less—that really connect. There’s a bit of female bonding in ”Guitar Playing Girls”—the sort of thing Mary Chapin Carpenter used to write before calming down—and a lot of honky-tonk heart throughout.