Missy Raines has relentlessly established a reputation as a first-tier bassist and bandleader. Royal Travellerbuilds a strong case for her continued emergence as a singer, songwriter, and arranger as well. Produced by Alison Brown, this recording features five songs written or co-written by Raines, seamlessly integrated into a well-chosen array of covers.
Her “Allegheny Town” is a gentle, engaging song that fits in well with a body of material that manages to be both energetic and introspective. When she includes relatively familiar songs, such as Ola Belle Reed’s “I’ve Endured,” Laurie Lewis’ “Swept Away,” and “Fearless Love” (recorded by Bonnie Raitt and Dede Wyland), they all contain unique touches that make the songs distinctly hers. Adding Robbie Fulks’ “Goodbye Virginia” and Kate Campbell’s “Free World” only broadens the considerable stylistic range of this recording.
Raines utilizes an impressive roster of guest artists, in keeping with her strong musical adaptability. She splits vocals with, respectively, Tim O’Brien and Trent Wagler on a pair of tracks and swaps bass licks on the album’s closing track, a freewheeling version of “Darlin’ Pals Of Mine,” with Mike Bub and Todd Phillips. Also making significant contributions to the music are Claire Lynch, Stuart Duncan, Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls, Fulks’ frequent touring partner Shad Cobb, Matt Flinner, Becky Buller, Molly Tuttle, the duo of 10 String Symphony, Sierra Hull, and producer Brown herself.
Royal Travelleris undoubtedly targeted to an Americana audience, with its imaginative yet tasteful incorporation of percussion, keyboards, electric guitar, and lap steel. But it’s undoubtedly overdue and deserving that a broader audience needs to hear the multi-talented Raines spread her musical wings as impressively as she does here. (Compass Records, 916 19th Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37212, www.compassrecords.com.)HK