After one spin of singer/songwriter Beth Richard’s new album Forever Man, it’s not much of a surprise that she’s from Austin, Texas, a hotbed of independent music, especially those who shift stylistically. Richard balances various genres on this album, sometimes on the same track. Mixing folk, country, and blues with radio-friendly pop hooks, Richard doesn’t belong to a single sound; she is liberated from such boundaries. And it’s her way of stitching together her rootsy yet diverse influences that generate fire on this magnetic record.
At times, Richard echoes Sheryl Crow, especially in her knack for hummable melodies with an Americana flavor. But Richard’s voice is sweeter, more soothing to the ears; when she reaches for higher notes, she truly soars, creating a transcendent experience. Richard’s untainted joy for singing is easily apparent; there is nothing artificial about it, no forced, fake attempt to please the crowd. The acoustic prettiness of the title track nearly disguises the undertow of sadness in trying to find somebody to be with for lie. It’s a pure declaration of love but an uncertain search for a soulmate as well.
“Hurricane Night” recalls the crystalline gorgeousness of Susanna Hoffs; Richard delivers a lovely performance that captures the indelible harmonies of the Beatles. “Tea for 2,” on the other hand,echoes the bluesy strut of Bonnie Raitt. There is track after track of sleekly produced and well polished material on Forever Man.