We hear quite a bit about country crossover artists in the bluegrass world. Marty Raybon, for instance, has had successful careers in both genres, while Rhonda Vincent recently released a dual country and bluegrass album. Kristy Cox is one of the latest artists to make the jump, although her path has been just a little different than most.
Cox has had a successful career over the past decade or so in Australia, with her music falling mostly toward the acoustic country side of things. Her last few albums have featured help from some of bluegrass music’s best, however (Bryan Sutton, Randy Kohrs, and Andy Leftwich, to name a few), and now she’s officially made the move to bluegrass, with a new album out this month from Pisgah Ridge.
On Living for the Moment, Cox has collaborated with Jerry Salley (who serves as producer, guest vocalist, and a co-writer on six of the album’s songs) to offer listeners ten tracks of contemporary country-grass. Cox has obviously been influenced by female country singers of the ’90s and early 2000s, and the majority of the songs here bring to mind artists like Patty Loveless, Kathy Mattea, and Lee Ann Womack. In fact, one of the album’s best numbers, Love Builds the Bridges (Pride Builds the Walls), was also recorded by Loveless in the early ’90s. Written by Salley and Jim McBride, this story of a couple whose relationship is disintegrating before their eyes has a great classic country feel and fits Cox’s vocal style well.
Cox is joined by Salley to duet on another classic-sounding song, When It Comes to You, a bouncy heartbreak number with a bit of a western swing feel that they also wrote together. The two also co-wrote the album’s opening track, a cleverly-worded, driving modern traditional bluegrass love song called You’re My Kind of Train Wreck. Another grassy number is the upbeat I’m Not Gonna Sing the Blues, written by Cox and Stephen Mougin, which finds the singer working through a breakup.
One Heartbreak Away has an enjoyable contemporary bluegrass arrangement, with a light, cheerful sound that is in contrast to the singer’s warning that she’s tired of “handing second chances out again and again.” I’ll Cry Tonight, on the other hand, has a haunting, melancholy feel that’s well suited to the tear in Cox’s voice and the song’s story of love gone wrong.
Cox’s clear, powerful vocals are the centerpiece here, and she also proves herself an adept songwriter, co-writing half of the tracks on the album. She’s joined by several top-notch musicians, including David Johnson (fiddle and resonator guitar), Darren Nicholson (mandolin), Steve Sutton (banjo), Stephen Mougin (guitar), and Mike Bub (bass). Johnson’s fiddle work particularly stands out, adding excellent lonesome touches to several of the country-tinged songs.
Even though her name may be new to most American fans, Cox’s musical style will surely appeal to fans of groups such as The Roys and Darin and Brooke Aldridge. While the album is, on the whole, a little more country than it is bluegrass, it’s still a great effort from an obviously talented singer.
For more information on Kristy Cox, visit her website at www.kristycox.com. Her new album can be purchased from several online music retailers.