Five-time CMA nominee, Arkansas Americana group Ten Penny Gypsy are riding high with their 2020 full-length sophomore album, “Fugitive Heart”, produced by renowned multi-instrumentalist and former Neil Young band member Anthony Crawford. Recorded at Crawford’s Admiral Bean Studio in Loxley, AL, the album contains ten original compositions by founding group members Justin Patterson and Laura Lynn Danley. Additional musical contributions to the album were made by Crawford and 2020 Arkansas CMA “Guitarist of The Year” nominee, Buddy Case.
Summoning traditional Americana with subtle nods to other roots influences, Ten Penny Gypsy offers a free-and-easy album that thematically explores “the uncertainties of separation”, while developing the duo’s signature vocals with rich and imaginative instrumentation.
If it’s true that revelry and optimism summoned by passion, as well as love, can imbue music with a sense of power and buoyancy, then on “Fugitive Heart”, Ten Penny Gypsy proves that the antipodes of those sentiments can do the same. Regardless of each singular topic, the entire album is brimming with vibrant energy and upbeat rhythm.
It actually opens with three minute’s worth of heartfelt singing on “Making Headway”, against a backdrop of clean strummed guitars that comes with sweet harmonies, a Lap steel and a swinging drum beat. It’s all about the need to keep working on a relationship right until the end.
“Brick by brick, who laid that first brick? Who laid that first brick? Gotta stop building that wall before it’s too tall,” sings Laura Lynn Danley in “Brick By Brick”. It is a call to break though communicative barriers, before it’s too late. A common situation in many relationships gone bad.
The title track, “Fugitive Heart” is almost a consequence of the previous song. “Now the deed is done. The time has come, I must be on my way. I’ve got a smoking gun, and echoes I’ve left along love’s lost highway,” sings Justin Patterson. The soundtrack is wistfully awash with organic guitars, piano and strings. The vocals and harmonies, as usual, are sublimely beautiful.
“Highway 65” is another mid-tempo gem, with it soulful and mellifluous vocals, rich in imagery and nuance. Patterson’s resonant tones and Danley’s ability to sustain a note are in full evidence here. The duo’s harmonies, matching their very different vocals, are heard to superb effect, as on all the tracks they are performed on.
“I am weary, I am worn, and I’m just beyond the storm. The faintest of light shining down,” belts out Laura Lynn Danley on “Lovely Melancholy”. The song will immediately remind listeners of a musical era uncluttered by overproduction and dominated by home-grown soulful performances.
Ten Penny Gypsy’s contribution to their genre is the duo’s ability to not only use Americana’s roots but also ensure the legacy is musically active, and infused into whatever other stylings they may eventually venture towards, like the bluesy “Road to Memphis”. This song will no doubt provoke involuntary head nodding and toe-tapping.
Patterson and Danley’s vocals once again form rich striking harmonies on “Lonesome No More”, which rides on a relentless chugging momentum. Ten Penny Gypsy’s ability to subtly blend harmonies, reaches a stupendous quality in the heartfelt “Train Won’t Wait For Me”. “Running down the back road, there’s a place I’ve got to be. I’ve a need to go much faster, the train won’t wait for me.”
“Your True You” provides an unadulterated take of classic Americana without sounding conventional or uniformed. Ten Penny Gypsy’s harmonizing embodies intensity that melds into tranquility, as they advise that time is a healer of afflictions: “Though your life looks like an hourglass. Sitting there watching time pass. If you’ll hold on ’til the morning light. Everything is gonna be alright.”
Ten Penny Gypsy and the musicians involved in the recording of “Fugitive Heart”, are uniformly excellent, while the production by Anthony Crawford is superbly balanced and open, which allows plenty of room for the players and singers to express themselves. Together, they have tried to capture the vibrant performances of Ten Penny Gypsy in as much as a studio setting will allow. And succeeded blissfully!