Kirby Heard may be best described as a dedicated troubadour, one who journeyed from the urban environs of the Midwest to a small southern town. It tempers her music with a down-home perspective that sources the essence of essential bluegrass in all its sincerity and simplicity. A former member of the band Bob & Kirby’s Double H Bluegrass, she creates an aural imagery that resonates with visions of small town life, friendly neighbors, and other scenes of simplicity.
Heard’s solo debut, Mama’s Biscuits, reflects that sunny view of life, and the easy existence that many people strive for but never seem to attain. Augmented by fiddle, mandolin, clawhammer banjo, resonator guitar, and upright bass, all in subtle doses to moderate degrees, she offers a series of songs so soothing and supple that it makes it all but impossible not to fall prey to their child-like charms. Every one of these entries appear intent on offering ease and assurance, especially as evidenced by such songs as With You There, Day is Done, Mama’s Attic and Reflections, melodies that bask in a warm glow and calm caress. Still, the song that seems to sum up Heard’s tender touch the best is opening track, Montgomery County, a tune that extols the joys of home and hearth.
That said, Mama’s Biscuits is more than simply a selection of songs that’s wholly reflective in nature. Slingshot is spunky and upbeat, all about “going to get a rabbit for supper you and me.” Missing You Sunday Blues comes across as a ramshackle ramble of a tune, one inspired by an easy, breezy day of repast and relaxation. For its part, Get (the Hell) Off My Farm is more tongue in cheek than axe in hand. Likewise, Heard’s attempt at finding inspiration, as described on Can’t Find the Words, isn’t so much cause for frustration but a desire to dive in deeper. In truth, there’s little here that doesn’t resemble a heartfelt homage to calm and tranquility.
Ultimately, Mama’s Biscuits is a tender tome, one that stakes out no hard-wrought ambitions or any desire for precision or perfection. Both touching and tender in equal measure, Mama’s Biscuits is a tasteful lesson in folk-like finesse.