“She stuck around, said to hold my ground/We went ’round, ’round, ’round,” goes the first line of “Down To You”, the bouncy two-step that kicks off Little Sue Weaver’s sophomore disc. It’s rare when an artist’s essence can be captured so concisely in a song, but Little Sue’s salt-of-the-earth obstinacy is a fundamental part of her appeal, with the track stubbornly concluding much as it begins: “Some good advice she said/’don’t think twice/just heed your call.’”
“Down To You” is perhaps Little Sue’s calling card, her statement of purpose, setting the table for the gritty tales of determination and survival strewn about her follow-up to last year’s Chimneys & Fishes like so many empty beer bottles. Weaver’s West Virginia roots proudly show on the laconic drawl of “Sweetie” (punctuated by an out-of-left-field trumpet solo courtesy of Richmond Fontaine multi-instrumentalist Paul Brainard, one of the 20-plus guest musicians who contribute to this effort). The lively “In The Morning” finds her unspooling a bit of Maria Muldaur’s back-porch sass.
Not every cut hits the mark. “Nilsson” (a tribute to the late songwriter Harry) is a touch saccharine in its sentimentality; “These Days” casts a knowing wink at the Dixieland strains of the Beatles’ “When I’m Sixty-Four”, but fails to come across as much more than a novelty tune. Overall, however, Crow is a worthy second effort by an artist gaining confidence with each passing release. My only question: When are we going to be treated to a recorded version of her live staple, Van Halen’s “Runnin’ With The Devil”?