Terri Clark - Roots and Wings
By: Matt Bjorke
Originally released digitally in the USA in July of 2011, Roots and Wings is finally seeing the light of day in physical CD form released as a partnership with Capitol Nashville. Known since the 1990s for her brand of country music that is as strong (melodically and muscular) as anything released by her more-accepted male counterparts, Terri Clark’s recent albums have continued to meld her guitar-slinger mentality with the ‘sentimentality’ more often associated with (for better or worse) female artists. This has made Terri Clark a superstar in Canada and – for a time – one of the top female artists in America (it seems as if Miranda Lambert took over the ‘tough girl’ torch from Terri). While she could’ve easily just toured behind her string of greatest hits for a long time to come, Terri has soldiered on through her own Bare Track Records label.
The record kicks off with the powerful ball of energy that is “Wrecking Ball” and it recalls the classics “Girls Lie Too” and “Better Things To Do”. Four tunes on Roots and Wings were written with Kristen Hall, one of the founding members of Sugarland. And while Terri’s always been a strong and capable songwriter, the work on this record with Kristen really stands out. From The 80s Gene Watson-like melancholic “Breakin’ Up Thing” to the hit lead single “Northern Girl” we hear a rejuvenated Terri Clark while “Beautiful and Broken” and “Flowers In Snow” show off more of the poetic songwriter found on great songs like “If I Could Be You” and “A Million Ways To Run” from The Long Way Home. “Beautiful and Broken” is a song about being there for your friends and accepting them for who they are no matter their faults they may have while “Flowers In Snow” shows off a folksy side to Terri while also housing one of the best vocals of her career.
So while those songs stand out, I’d be remiss without discussing “Smile,” a track written for Terri’s mother (who passed away last year from cancer). It is guaranteed to bring a tear to the eye of anyone who has lost a parent (either early or due to old age) and if it was given a chance on mainstream country radio in America, I bet the song could find its way to song-of-the-year contention. Terri co-wrote it Karyn Rochelle.
Terri Clark has grown as an artist throughout her career without ever losing the strengths that brought her to the dance that is the music business. Roots & Wings is a great artistic leap forward and while it seems like we’re saying this a lot lately, it’s one of 2011’s best records.