With Leave the Porch Light On, Kim Robins shows once again why the accolades that have been tossed her way are anything but an accident. Having earned two nominations for the IBMA’s Momentum Vocalist of the Year award, she uses her talent to full effect on a diverse selection of songs that find her varying both tone and texture, while striking an ideal balance between the earnest and the effusive.
Several offerings illustrate that ability to an ideal extent. The title track and I’ll Always Be a Gambler are upbeat and engaged, but they eschew frivolity simply for the sake of fueling the festivities. There’s genuine emotion imparted within each of these offerings, and even when Robins opts to kick up the tempo, the delivery ensures it becomes more than a mere romp that leaves the listener with little to chew on once the final notes fade away. Annalisa and Seven Devils Ridge are apt examples, songs that hew to bluegrass basics but provide an emphatic imprint, courtesy of a sturdy delivery and a nuanced narrative. Robins excels in conveying tales of intriguing individuals, and on tracks like Johnny Clay, Memories of an Angel, and Wind in the Valley, she shares her storytelling skills with a commitment and credibility that finds her offering empathy for the subjects of her songs, and keeping her connection intact.
At times, in fact, it’s difficult to discern any divide at all. You’re in the Lord’s Hands Now and I’m Not To Blame offer perfect illustrations, each a swaying mid-tempo ballad that addresses the listener with obvious intent. Likewise, Hurricane and I Won’t Have a Prayer each share a resolute ramble that rings with clear conviction. Here again, Robins’ emotionally emphatic vocals are rich and resonant, leaving an indelible imprint on the material, and giving each song the depth it deserves. In the end, these tunes resonate in a way that allows for a lingering impression.
Suffice it to say Leave the Porch Light On is a sturdy yet sincere offering that brings Robins’ incisive presence solidly to the fore. That makes this project an illuminating effort indeed.