Nothing quite prepares you for the bold new sounds on Terra Lightfoot’s latest album, “Consider the Speed,” a mix of hard rockers, bluesy soul and tender ballads, reflecting on the road behind and the journey up ahead. If, like me, you are new to Lightfoot’s music, then you’re sure to be glad that it arrived in your mailbox or inbox, whatever the case might be. If you’re part of her growing fan base, then you will simply celebrate, because this music is full of unexpected guitar tones, lyrical wizardry and exuberant energy, along with some the best choruses recorded this past year.
It is incredible how music from one source can lead to another. Earlier this year I reviewed a new single by Edmonton’s Ayla Brook & The Sound Men, “All I Wanted to Do,” which was produced by Terra Lightfoot – largely through Brook’s affinity for her guitar playing and style, as well as her take charge attitude. That single and subsequent album release made me more than curious about what Lightfoot was up to.
Pre-order in hand, the first pre-release single, “It’s Over Now,” really got me excited. I love the gritty guitar riff of that introduction and the lively immediacy of the tune. But what really caught my attention was Lightfoot’s lyric, made more apparent, and underscored by the dynamic shift in pace before the beat takes off again: “You and me, we were a masterpiece, that never found a gallery.” No finer statement could ever be made about the majesty, mystery, and mayhem of when love misses and an affair comes to an end. Having been on the road for two years solid promoting her 2017 “New Mistakes” album, Lightfoot gathers the countless miles beneath her wheels to invigorate the imagery in “It’s Over Now,” but also to prime her writing throughout the album.
Recorded in Memphis, TN at legendary Royal Studios with Grammy Award winning producer Jay Newland and Grammy Award winning engineer Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell, “Consider the Speed” is destined to propel Lightfoot’s trajectory into headlining recognition. Backed by a trio of world class session players – Steve Potts (drums), Davy Smith (bass), and veteran Stax keyboardist Lester Snell – Lightfoot is able to cut loose in almost any direction her muse wants to take her. Written exclusively for this album, the tracks have both a unique and timeless cohesion to them, in which Lightfoot explores loss and what has often been cited as “the healing power of rock and roll.”
“Called Out Your Name,” itself reminiscent of the masterful Stax soul sound of yesteryear, opens the mood and quality for the recording. Lightfoot’s steady hand gives the guitar phrases a modern feel but when she sings out, in call and response with her background vocalists, it is pure soul fury! Stylistically, many of the tracks are infused with similar characteristics, due perhaps to the legendary recording setting at Royal Studios, yet Lightfoot and her band turn the sound around to their advantage, making something fresh and purely their own.
“Midnight Choir” is a strong example. Starting with a familiar Steve Cropper style clean guitar intro, they break off in a wholly unforeseen direction and come up rocking full force, with an overdriven saturated guitar lead and the singers all chanting in behind. In fact, it is these types of surprises that show off Lightfoot’s reach as a songstress, giving her an almost infinite palette with which to explore her stories – whether she is expressing joy, loss, or sorrow.
Standouts abound on this collection, notably the title track “Consider the Speed,” and the aforementioned “It’s Over Now,” which are both rock solid, while “Ramblin’ Rose” and “Paper Thin Walls” are pensive and moody. The light waltz tempo of “Lost You Forever” gives it a special flavor, with its plain-spoken lyric of life on the road, broken hearts, and chosen paths: “Knowing that I could have lost you forever / Nothing could drag me away from you now / Nobody tells you ‘it’s now or it’s never’ / So take what you want before the going gets gone.”
Terra Lightfoot has given us another chapter in her unfolding saga as a talented writer, composer and hardworking performer. The eleven songs on “Consider the Speed” are both compelling and spellbinding. In the final song, “Two Wild Horses,” she lays bare the spirit and emotion that inspired the telling of these tales. As the chorus swells, with singers soaring majestically, she sings almost off handedly: “If you want the truth babe, I’ll give it to you, I have never felt so close to grace /Lucky don’t even come close, to the feeling I get when I see your face / There’s nothing that I wouldn’t give to be near you, to be there when you need a friend / We are two wild horses on Saturday night, I will wander with you ‘til the end.”
Photo Credit: Mat Dunlap