Huntley minstrel Almeda Bradshaw is the townie kid who dreamed of being a cowgirl since she saddled up the family propane tank as a tot. Her new CD focuses primarily on frontier women, and her Americana originals recount their true stories.
There are covers of songs written by Dave Stamey and Ian Tyson, and she has set others’ poems to music, as well. There’s plenty of instrumental and vocal accompaniment to assist her.
Tom Russell’s “Hallie Lonnigan” is a country loper with lots of banjo and fiddle. Bradshaw sings about a farmer’s wife who survives life with her abusive husband. In fact, hearing Russell’s songs about the fortitude of women convinced Bradshaw to make this album.
Songs spotlight prostitutes and the lives they endured. Bradshaw’s pretty “The Love of Lottie Johl” is about a “girl of the night” in the 1880s who married respectably but was never accepted by frontier society; she died a questionable death. Bradshaw’s clear, sweet alto and fluid guitar work complement her storytelling style, and here she is backed by accordion, mandolin, steel, and more. I like it.
“Parker Eyes of Blue,” featuring Native singing, drumming and haunting flute, is Bradshaw’s story about Cynthia Ann Parker, captured at an early age in 1836 by Comanches. She married a chief and raised three children, only to be retaken by Texas Rangers in her later years. She never adapted to her former life.
There’s also “Heavenly Here with You,” Bradshaw’s love song for her husband, and songs based around family and its often attendant heartbreak.
Her stories of women call attention to the practice of sex trafficking, and she encourages people to support efforts to rescue its victims.
Bradshaw will perform in Billings Feb. 16, and during Western Art Week festivities in Great Falls March 16-19. For more information and the artist’s busy touring schedule, visit www.almedam2bmusic.com.
– Mariss McTucker