Burrower – Kayleigh Goldsworthy

'Burrower' is the debut from Kayleigh Goldsworthy; former vocalist with The Scarlet Ending. She's embraced country music and we've embraced the record back.

My name is Scott and I like country music. There, I’ve said it. I’m not talking bland acoustic rock or chart-topping ‘new folk’; I’m on about the type of country music your parents used to play on old 33RPM records round the house or on the tape deck in a beat-up hatchback car on summer’s days. Fiddles, foot tapping, banjos, blood and guts and beer; that’s how I roll.

Growing up in the Northern Irish countryside, we lived in a big old farmhouse. The paint was chipping off the walls and the animals had all since flown their coops but the homestead always reverberated to the sounds of women with attitude, with big choruses and brassy attitudes. Not for my family the plastic pop of Madonna, Britney, Cher or the likes. We’d smash up those old toploader tape players before we’d ever have played anything akin to Miley Cyrus. No, we liked our female vocalists with sass and talent. From my earliest memorable days, I listened to Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette. My more rebellious side discovered records by Blondie and Suzi Quattro while my misguided college years saw a succession of quick flings with the music of Michelle Branch, Avril Lavigne and even Meredith Brooks.

As well as music, we had cats.

And like most cats, they would aimlessly wander the countryside in search of adventure and the unknown. My mum was always one to say ‘they’ll come home when they’re hungry’ and true to form each night they assembled ravenously at the back step awaiting whatever tasty morsels were in store. Much like those cats, I’ve grown hungry. No amount of Simon Cowell TV fodder has suppressed that desire for strong female talent. Miley misses the point by miles and Avril’s gone and hooked up with Chad Kroger. These are dark times for music and so it’s time to get hungry, come back home and stick on a decent country record.

Step up Kayleigh Goldsworthy. Former songwriter and vocalist of Syracuse sextet The Scarlet Ending, she’s taken a step away from her electric guitar, grabbed an acoustic, headed for the tranquility of the countryside and spent three years crafting an honest, emotional, straight-up country record. ‘Burrower’ is an album short in length but with definite turntable longevity. Yes, turntable. Other works may drift in and out of Spotify playlists but this is one for those cold winter nights with a bourbon, an open fire and the crackle of vinyl. Of course I’ll also need to get a CD for the inevitable summer road trips with the top down and the wind blowing through what’s left of my hair.

While unashamedly country, there are glimpses of the alternative rock and pop-punk of Goldsworthy’s formative years in the business, in particular evidenced on the edgy opener ‘Spark’. The vocal intonation and chord structure are that of someone who’s grown up on the punkier side of the tracks but within a few songs we’re firmly settled in a country grove and it’s all fiddles and hoedowns and rolling banjo licks.

‘The Weight’ doesn’t quite delve into the headspace of Robertson and Helm’s namesake masterpiece. The only person taking a load off here is Kayleigh herself. It’s an emotional mind dump and a step towards new found freedom, maybe from a lover, maybe from the stresses of New York City life or from the pressure of rock stardom. But, it’s ‘Where The Summer Goes’ that first piqued our interest having heard it on The Revival Tour compilation from last year’s series of shows where Kayleigh accompanied the likes of Chuck Ragan, Dan Andriano, Cory Brannan and Dave Hause on the road. It’s the type of tale of lost love that makes for perfect country music and as we leave the summer behind, this is the song that will welcome in those winter evenings.

Indeed much of the record skirts around the themes of moving on. Years in the making, ‘Burrower’ is a real labour of love; a step forward into a new adventure; an old classic Chevy loaded up with acoustic strings and headed from the big smoke on down to Nashville. On ‘Tennessee’ we hear that’s where Goldsworthy is happiest. She’s left her literal and metaphorical ‘ghosts’ behind and come out with a strong debut release. It feels like the pressure is off. You can sense she’s having fun with her music; the kind of girl you could bring for a beer and the kind of record you could bring home to your mother.