You Used to Live Here

Thrust onto some of the bigger stages in Americana music for a few years as a member of the Trishas, Kelley Mickwee has smartly opted to spiral off with her own momentum instead of waiting around to see if the band’s post High, Wide & Handsome hiatus holds. Lovely as a four-part harmony can be, there’s much to be said for putting a voice like Mickwee’s front and center and amicably daring the supporting cast to keep up. She doesn’t overplay her hand on You Used to Live Here, offering up a slim but satisfying seven-song sampler of what she does best. “I come from the cotton, I come from the mud/I know what that river can do when it floods,” she asserts on the killer lead-off track, “River Girl,” and it epitomizes that timeless blend of humility and wisdom that makes for great country music. She’s not as faithful to the country sound as she is the spirit, though: the prominent R&B organs lean hard into Southern soul territory, and there’s a strong, smoky whiff of low-key blues to darker tracks like “Hotel Jackson” and “Dark Side of Town.” Mickwee’s certainly got a soul-singer’s pipes, but fortunately for the material she’s also got a folk-singer’s reverence for the words: it serves fantastically on numbers like the John Fullbright-penned waltz “Blameless” and the cheery Owen Temple co-write, “Beautiful Accidents,” shedding some sunshine on great lyrics without blinding the listener with too much vocal pyrotech. Less is more, and Mickwee’s solo debut is “less” where it counts and more than satisfying. — MIKE ETHAN MESSICK