Album Review: Sara Syms – Way Back Home

Sara Syms – Way Back Home – Album Review

Sara Syms’ sophomore album Way Back Home is the sort of music you want to blast along midnight highway drives to both keep you awake and, if you’re like me, quench that unending thirst for country/Americana music that is able to reference times gone past without seeming quaint or overly dependent on nostalgia.

Throughout Way Back Home, accessible lyrics echo the psyche of an American Midwest, particularly the track “Almost Home”, which exudes a radiant Emmy-Lou Harris quality. The album is built on steady acoustic guitar parts, brought to life by driving, but tasteful electric guitar statements. Syms’ vocal work comes across as effortless and the strategically-placed harmony parts go down as easy as a honey-heavy hot toddy.

Things take a turn for the grittier on the track “Real Bad Low” and the juxtaposition is refreshing halfway though an album of Syms’ smooth songwriting. The album is defined by stories of uncertainty, disappointment and heartbreak, but with such nature-rich imagery and uplifting melodies, these songs convey a tentative optimism that feels an awful lot like hope – the culmination being the final track of the album “In Time”, a powerful conclusion to a collection of songs that end as a woven narrative.

If you’re one of those more reluctant country music fans that “loves the older stuff” but cringes in disbelief at the sheer awfulness of the male-dominated pop-country stations of 2016, listen to Way Back Home and breathe a sigh of relief – when it comes to Sara Syms, country music is alive and in good hands.

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