Travels Of A Homebody is a bit like a book of short stories with music. Lashley is a songwriter who obviously loves her craft and sees her lyrics as important as the music that carries them. The twelve songs on here feel like little musical postcards that are windows into Lashley's life. She admits to suffering from uncontrollable stage fright and an awkwardness in social situations so instead uses her music as a cathartic process to express her personality. As a mother, wife, daughter and artist she is not as far removed from the lives that we all have as she may think. Her songs touch on things that we can all relate to irrespective of the life we have.
The album opens with Kiss Indiana Goodbye, a song that feels different in both style and approach to anything else on the album and is one of its finest moments. Lashley's voice has a fragility to it that suggest her vulnerability, but it is also sweet and pure. This is a truly beautiful song. The Gypsy jazz of Who Am I Kidding is totally unexpected but it is the lyrics that make this song shine. A tale of adolescence and self discovery that has a happy ending. Menstruation is not usually a subject regaled in song but with Lil' Red Girl we find out that it can sometimes be a girls best friend or an unwelcome monthly visitor. Somehow I can't see Radio 2 play listing it anytime soon.
The album benefits greatly from the earthy and warm production of her long time partner Otis Gibbs, a brilliant songwriter and storyteller in his own right, allowing the songs and Lashley's voice space to breath. Emmett Till is a perfect example of this. The sparse arrangement leaves the voice as the focus of attention and Lashley grabs it with both hands, delivering a mesmerising performance. The overall vibe of the record is laid back roots and americana which is executed perfectly by the small band of musicians gathered together. Happy-O and Ode To Middle Age feature some lovely dobro playing from Thomm Jutz whose various playing talents on guitar, bass, mandolin and organ are all over this record.
The album closes on what for me is the stand out track. Older Brother is an uptempo country ride with a killer acoustic riff, some great vocals and rock solid drumming from Pat McInerney. A simpler song you wont find. Given Lashley's disposition, we are unlikely to ever get to hear her perform these songs live but that somehow only adds to the charm of this record. Lashley paints with a broad brush on an even bigger canvas as she embraces different styles with considerable ease and I for one find it refreshing, charming and engaging.