Jump to Content

Welcome! You’re browsing the No Depression Archives

No Depression has been the foremost journalistic authority on roots music for well over a decade, publishing 75 issues from 1995 to 2008. No Depression ceased publishing magazines in 2008 and took to the web. We have made the contents of those issues accessible online via this extensive archive and also feature a robust community website with blogs, photos, videos, music, news, discussion and more.

Close This

Waxed - Record Review from Issue #32 March-April 2001

Eliza Gilkyson

Hard Times In Babylon (Red House)

Eliza Gilkyson has been making records for nearly two decades, but Hard Times In Babylon is a revelation, a bracing song cycle about the challenges of balancing art and eros. Like Lucinda Williams, she sings with a scratchy, wounded sensuality, suggesting a wise and generous soul beneath a rough and tumble surface. And she supports her erudite, soul-searching lyrics with catchy, hummable melodies.

The gutty, up-tempo opening track establishes “The Beauty Way” as an insightful, effective metaphor, telling us with clarity and conviction that Gilkyson plays for high stakes. For her, creating music is not a way of looking at the world, but a life-and-death struggle in its own right.

Though she bases her insights on intense self-scrutiny, Gilkyson is never self-indulgent. From her candid, caustic confessions, we glean basic truths and sound advice, such as how to believe in love while retaining a healthy skepticism. On “Walk Away From Love”, she sings: “I got a foolish heart but I’m not an idiot/I don’t trust the world of man but I still believe in love/People hide from the truth but I can’t live like that.”

Gilkyson acknowledges her own quirks and eccentricities, and admits to a weakness for men she should avoid (“You’re so beautiful, you don’t give a damn/you’re everything I’ve wanted in a man,” she sings in “Twisted”). But her ultimate goal, which may or may not be attainable, is admirable: to achieve a kind of reciprocity, a relationship stripped of pretense yet full of promise, as she ponders in “Flatline: “Maybe by the time he gets here he won’t be a prince anymore, and I won’t be such a fool.”

Enjoy the ND archives? Consider making a donation with PayPal or send a check to:
No Depression, 460 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94108


Did you enjoy this article? Start a discussion about it, or find out what others are saying in the No Depression Community forum.

Join the Discussion »

Find out what's going on in roots music. Share concert photos and videos, learn about new artists, blog about the music you love.

Join the No Depression Community »

Originally Featured in Issue #32 March-April 2001

Buy our history before it’s gone!

Each issue is artfully designed and packed full of great photos that you don‘t get online. Visit the No Depression store to own a piece of history.

Visit the No Depression Store »

From the Blogs

  • Chris Isaak's Life Beyond the Sun
    In 2011, Chris Isaak took the long overdue step of recording an album at Sun Studios in Memphis, Tenn. It wasn't just any album, it was faith interpretations of classic songs by his musical mentors and heroes: Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins. It didn’t take much of a leap of imagination to predict that the album would be so […]
  • Ray LaMontagne at the Woods at Fontanel (Nashville, Tenn. – July 25, 2014)
    Ray LaMontagne writes great songs and makes great records. And that's certainly no small feat. His live shows, though, while being technically and musically superlative, really don't leave the audience with a whole lot to hang on to other than the technique and the music. There's no personal engagement on LaMontagne's part. It's as i […]
  • Freight Train Boogie Show #264 features new music from Old Crow Medicine Show, Carolina Story, Yvette Landry and The Sweet Potatoes
    FTB Show #264 features the new album by Old Crow Medicine Show called Remedy.  Also new music from Carolina Story, Yvette Landry and The Sweet Potatoes. Here's the iTunes link to subscribe to the FTB podcasts.  Here's the direct link to … […]
  • Vancouver International Folk Festival Day Two (Jericho Beach, Vancouver, BC - July 19th, 2014)
    While Friday night at the Vancouver Folk Festival focuses on main stage performances, the rest of the weekend on the sprawling festival grounds of Jericho Beach is as notable for its smaller workshop performances. This was especially true this year. This particular Saturday started with the official public announcement of Joan Baez's cancellation. Perha […]
  • Chris O’Connell - Be Right Back (Album Review)
    The art of feeling a song’s essence  -- color, range, control, and style -- and giving it all to you is the domain of the great jazz singers, like Betty Carter, Abbey Lincoln, Carmen McRae, Sarah Vaughan; and the great pop singers, like Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Stevie Nicks, Bonnie Raitt. Chris O’Connell has a voice that carries you up with her when i […]
  • Getting to Know Zak Smith -- Falcon Ridge Emerging Artist
    Zak Smith is from New Jersey and proud of it. There’s an incredibly large musical legacy in that state and Zak works hard at maintaining his place within it. As one music critic pointed out, “Zak Smith proves his worth with passionate vocals and concisely written songs from the gut.” What more could you ask for?  Not much.  Zak Smith is one of 24 emerging ar […]

Shop Amazon by clicking through this logo to support NoDepression.com. We get a percentage of every purchase you make!

Subscribe To the No Depression Newsletter

Subscribe to the No Depression Newsletter