Enter the journeywoman. She's written or co-written songs for a veritable who's who of country music including The Dixie Chicks, Trisha Yearwood, Patty Loveless, Suzy Bogguss, Radney Foster, Lorrie Morgan, Terri Clark and Brooks & Dunn. She's also recorded half a dozen wonderful albums featuring her own gorgeous voice and worked on projects with fellow songwriters, Maia Sharp and Pittsburgh's Bill Deasy among them. Despite these accomplishments Kim Richey has remained a mostly unknown commodity with music fans. This fact speaks volumes about the sad state of radio and record labels and is no reflection on Ms. Richey's talent.
Aficionados of great songwriting, those seekers of hidden treasures in the arid desert of popular music, have built a strong cult following for Richey and she dearly deserves it. Her pop songs leap off the disc from the opening notes and keep your interest with surprising turns of phrase and melody. Her waltz-like ballads lure you into a state of shared acknowledgment; hasn't everyone experienced the emotions she so naturally conveys with an economy of language that is nearly startling?
Richey's song are informed by a multitude of influences from 60's and 70's pop and rock songs to country standards thanks to an adolescent spent ransacking the bins of '45s in her aunt's record store. Richey merges these elements for a distinctive sound that suggests a direction that popular country music might have gone if the industry wasn't concerned about being "too smart" for it's audience.
Always the collaborator, Richey co-writes the ten songs on Chinese Boxes with fellow songwriters including Joan Osborne and Mindy Smith. Working with a partner seems to give Richey the ability to hone her songs to a fine point, always expressive with out being excessive.
Richey's choice of producer is Giles Martin, the son of the Beatles legendary producer George Martin. His pop-oriented touch helps balance Richey's roots/country leanings. Both are dedicated to the craft of music making. Every accompanying instrument has a purpose and never interferes with Richey's vocals.
As for the theme of the disc, Ms. Richey has always focused on the sad realities of human relationships - where there is love there is struggle and loss but always tinted with sweetness in Richey's case.
In her liner notes for Chinese Boxes Richey writes "the best thing about recording this record was working with friends." That sentiment comes shining through these precise and lovely songs.