Until now, Matraca Berg’s music, like her career, has been as understated as it was impressive. The willowy Nashville singer-songwriter-guitarist has long remained in the background, composing terrific tunes for stars like Deana Carter, Trisha Yearwood, Patty Loveless, Linda Ronstadt, Pam Tillis and Reba McEntire, or backing up Neil Young. With her third solo album, however, Berg takes a giant step ahead of her peers to create the best country album so far this year.
Performing 11 of her own works with subtlety and charm, she ranges from rousing anthems like “That Train Don’t Run,” about a now-settled woman who pines for her carousing days, to gentle, moving ballads such as “Back When We Were Beautiful,” in which a grandmother reflects wistfully on her life. Berg’s savvy allows her to blend her softness and her sassier side in the manner of a Mary Chapin Carpenter, while painting beautifully lyrical portraits of real women and their struggles. This is a superior talent crying out to be noticed. (Rising Tide)