Sometimes South Dakota singer-songwriter Jami Lynn's new album FALL IS A GOOD TIME TO DIE can feel like one of those idyllic Black Hills hollows. And sometimes, like the mountains, something animal lurks beneath the scene. Species of the Canis genus — fox , coyote, wolf — stalk the album’s aural game trails like a London novel.
The sound “is not only rooted in the mystery and the wonder of Dakota mythical landscape,” says Empty Bottle and Broken Souls, “it sprinkles the feel of the land and the magic of her distinct Midwestern sound like gold dust in an old miner's pan.”
Lynn’s banjo ranges from stoic to laden to buoyant, complemented by Dalton Coffey’s dobro and the acoustic bass of Andrew Reinartz. But where the music takes flight over the Plains it grows from is in her vocals. Her voice is the rare kind with the power and versatility to carry notes from every hue of the human/animal pilgrimage, notes tracked by wolves and rutted by wagon wheels.
With “Polywogs,” the album starts off at an easy saunter, changing pace with the plaintive “Red Fox.” The ride gains momentum seeking “God Out On the Plains.”
“I am a pilgrim on my way / I look for God out on the Plains / Though I cannot find him still / I think He’s closer in the hills.”
The road ahead eludes like a shadow on “Wolf,” then “Coyote, Why Ya Been Lookin’ So Thin?” brings the hike back to a casually sunny stroll before setting off on the barnstorming eponymous romp. “I think that fall is a good time to die / all the leaves on the trees couldn’t agree more / brown and dry / though all the world dreads the winter / I just smile / cause fall is a good time…”
No brooding discourse on the knowledge that things end, “Fall” encompasses all the reverie, blues and ebullience we experience with Lynn heretofore along the way, like memories poised at the cusp of something new. Here, as in the line, “I don’t wanna forget how the light starts to change,” all the exquisite loss and promise only our best songwriters can give us shows its colors, like orange on the leaves of an aspen grove.
Jami Lynn celebrates the release of FALL IS A GOOD TIME TO DIE with shows at the Matthews Opera House in Spearfish (April 10) and The Orpheum in Sioux Falls (April 11). She’ll play songs from the album live from South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s Rapid City studio on the April 9 edition of Dakota Midday.
You can also catch a broadcast of her recent performance at the SDPB studios in Vermillion on NO COVER, NO MINIMUM, Saturday night (April 4) at 10pm CT, 9 MT.