Sherry Austin

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Album Reviews

Drive on back

Sing Out! Spring 2007
SHERRY AUSTIN, Drive On Back, (Barking Topiary)

Sherry Austin had me from note one. Tim O’Brien’s paean to living lean, “less and Less” is a great song and a rousing opener. The rest of the 11 song set is seven Austin originals and three more covers. Sherry’s songs have the freshness of a crisp breeze observing the world through clear, bright eyes. Her singing is warm and inviting with swell Santa Cruz players in support. Fine, friendly album. -MT

San Jose Mercury News
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Brad Kava
Sherry Austin: a singer who is going to break through. Her new album is mature, wry, smart, sensitive and funny. In her unassuming way, she is a much bigger talent than she gives herself credit for being.

Freight Train Boogie
Drive On Back
reviewed by bill frater

Austin is a singer-songwriter from Santa Cruz who has a strong deep voice that unadorned, would fall into the folk music genre. Sherry writes sensitive and well thought-out compositions with fine melodies, and she has impeccable taste in selecting songs by other songwriters to cover. Tim O'Brien's “Less And Less” sounds made for her, as does Dylan's “Wagon Wheel”. The other strong point is the intelligent arrangements, adding fiddle, steel guitar and cello where it fits, and surrounding herself with great musicians and singers. Her original "I Wouldn't Lie To You " is a direct plea to our president with a taste of irony. It all comes together on the marvelous “Hallelujah”, written by Martha Scanlan, (due for her first solo CD next year), which opens with some tasty dobro and winds up with a rousing Dixieland-style ending. It's pretty close to perfection and is one of the best songs I've heard all year. A tip of the hat must also go to Jim Norris, who produced Drive On Back with Austin. This is a well-balanced album that just gets better with each listen.

Sherry Austin - "Drive On Back"
Imagine a record made by Eliza Gilkyson and Townes Van Zandt with lots of help from Emmy Lou Harris and you get a good idea of what Sherry Austin’s new release sounds like to me. Now put Keith Greeninger (City Folk), Sharon Allen and Ginny Mitchell in the mix and you’ve got some of the tightest, most pleasing harmonies you’ll find anywhere. Co-produced by Sherry and Jim Norris (percussion), this record has a wonderful live feel to it with just a splash of southern California sunshine thrown in for good measure. I defy you to listen without tapping along! Standouts include: Less and Less (Tim O’Brien), Parrish Painting (check out the pedal steel), Wagon Wheel (wonderful duet with Keith), I Wouldn’t Lie To You (incredible harmonies), Hallelujah (what an arrangement & harmonies) and Audrey’s Song. But there’s not a weak track on this wonderful new release, I love it!
Mark Michaelis - Acoustic Harmony, WGDR

(10/25/06) Drive on Ahead

Sherry Austin opens her debut record, Drive On Back, with a sprightly cover of Tim O'Brien's song "Less and Less," a tune about, among other things, learning what to keep and what to let go of in life. Austin, who followed several life paths before getting into songwriting seriously about three years ago, may know that philosophy first hand. She mixes originals in with covers of, in addition to O'Brien, Fred Eaglesmith and Bob Dylan.
It works.
Austin has opened for Slaid Cleaves and Robert Earl Keen, among others, and she's on the right wavelength with both song and sound, reminding a bit of early day Eliza Gilkyson in both.
Notable tracks include a cover of Martha Scanlon's "Hallelujah" and Austin's own "Parrish Painting." One has the sense that the California native (note: she's not the Country singer...that's Sherrie Austin) has a ways to go, musically, and she just might get there.
reviewed by Kerry Dexter

Drive on Back is a lovely listen.
Sherry’s warm, rich voice sounds full and confident
here. The songwriting is infused with wistfully bucolic
images. She is blessed with an accompaniment of abundantly
talented players. Of particular note are Jim Lewin’s
oh-so-supple guitar work, and Keith Greeninger’s
gorgeous, intoxicating vocals. Delightful bits of unexpected instrumentation pop up here and there (clarinet, tuba, cello), adding charm to the full arrangements.
Sherry has fine taste in the artists she chooses to
cover. Her female perspective often adds a whole new
dimension to the material she is interpreting.
Arden Eaton, KPIG, Freedom, California

As a result of her 2003 debut album “Drive-by Romance”, we knew there was a bright future for Santa Cruz singer/songwriter Sherry Austin. After listening to her second Jim Norris produced album, “Drive on Back”, we had no doubt. Austin raises the bar to the level of colleagues such as Mary Gauthier or Eliza Gilkyson with this cd . She does so with several of her own compositions (among the most remarkable is “I Wouldn’t Lie To You”, which is critical of the current politics in the US), as well as a few well chosen covers by Tim O’brien, Dylan/Jay Secor, Fred Eaglesmith/Rod Picott and Martha Scanlan.
The overall result is a particularly charming americana cd that fans of this genre will find equal to some of the more significant artists.

“Drive On Back is one of my favorite albums
that I have received this year”
Fred Dolan WJCU

Sherry Austin's latest cd is a perfect blend of originals and
covers that compliment her warm, rich vocals.
--Dallas Dobro
Strawberry Music Festival MC

“I absolutely LOVE that song (Hallelujah).  I laughed outloud on the air with glee when it was over during my back announcing!”
--Johnny Bazzano, KRCB, Santa Rosa, CA

“It’s a great CD and you should be proud!
Wesley Robertson, KVMR, Nevada City, CA

“this album is very well done”
Ginger Hopper KBCS Belleview, Washington

- Countrymusic24 / Best of 2006
Gerd Stassen on 31/Dec/2006
#3. SHERRY AUSTIN --- "Hallelujah"  Drive on Back ---
One of the best independent releases of 2006 ...
Sherry Austin - Drive On Back.... (Barking Topiary)

One of the top 10 for ‘06
Bill Frater- Freight Train Boogie

"Drive On Back" is without any doubt one of the best albums I've had the chance to listen to recently. In fact it is really a gem, a true joy to listen from the first to the last note…
--Massimo Ferro
Radio Voce Spazio

One of the top 10 for ‘06
Theo Oldenburg, Ctrl Alt Country, Belgium

I am hooked on the album. It is one of the few I keep turning to when I want to have music on at home.
John Weingart, WPRB, Princeton New Jersey

Thanks for the cd...I love it! I particularly like those great harmonies you've got with Keith Greeninger on several songs.
Karen Rakos, KEUL, Girdwood, AK

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Album Review by George Peden

  Drive-By Romance (Barking Topiary Records) is Sherry Austin's debut release. With its easy-on-the-ear blending of home-spun wisdom, its sway of car songs, and a cover or two (four, actually), this is simply one fine album. Give the CD a few more spins, though, and you learn fine is too restrictive a compliment. Take notice of the crafted tunes, note the sharp production values, take in the charmed vocals, and you'll quickly follow the lead of peers and reviewers. This is a great album!

  What's more remarkable, according to Austin's bio, is three years back, she was an unknown. It was 25 years earlier, in Hawaii, she last played any real music. Now, with her new home in Santa Cruz and a renewed passion, she has started performing and writing again. The hiatus, clearly, has brought the rewards.

   The album, which takes its name from Austin's attraction for "cool" cars, has 11-tracks seven self-penned. The influence is clearly Americana. That's understandable, considering this daytime horticulturist cites Fred Eaglesmith (Austin describes herself as a "Fredhead"), Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Robert Earl Keen as the power behind her pen.

   "Learning", an honest tune of self-reflection on lessons learned, opens the album. From here, the ride only gets better as we travel on a free-ranging journey of octane, tears, and well-covered memories.

   The memories come on the cello and violin assisted Robert Earl Keen standard, "Love's A Word I Never Throw Around"; a live rendition of Slaid Cleaves' "Broke Down"; Gillian Welch and David Rawlings-penned hit for Kathy Mattea, "455 Rocket"; and Fred Eaglesmith's "105". Feeling, honesty, and tuneful direction Austin covers all the needed bases.

   "I Laid In Bed All Afternoon" is a moody piece exploring gray moments. The song owes its creation to the memory of a deceased lover. Threadbare in its musical base and reliant on the guitar of Yuji Tojo, the comfort found in a tightly-clutched pillow as a safeguard against cold memories, shows a depth of promise to Austin's writing. It's a depth resulting in radio play (several Californian stations have her on high rotation), nominations for musical awards, and shared stages with musical heroes.

   Speaking of Austin's heroes, listen out for Australian Audrey Auld on the harmony-rich "Sapphire Sky". This is another song featuring Austin's honest probing of love, life, and the intensity that binds it.

   "Baby Blue Bonneville" follows a tuneful timeline, easily identified by the car of the moment. Our heroine gathers no rust as she rides the circumstances in a baby blue Bonneville (ideal for looking hip), a VW as the conveyance of choice in 1967, while an old Olds and a Honda complete modern times.

   The other car tunes "455 Rocket" which, incidentally, sounds eerily like Kathy Mattea, "How's The Mustang Running?" and "Hump Day Roses" with its stark suggestion of savoring life's joys, along with "105" are all gems in this undiscovered artist's repertoire.

   Austin's voice, her insightful storytelling, and her warm passion for an honest performance all add up to an exciting debut. Great albums deserve a great score. 8/10.

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