It’s only right that true Alt-Country music hails from the South. Carrying the torch is Libby Koch, a Houston, TX singer/songwriter that will draw you in with her country, bluegrass, and folk brand of music. Koch has just released the enchanting album The Shadow of This Town and the Texas staple is finally starting to branch out to the rest of the world.
Starting off the record is the captivating song “Lonesome Bound,” which sets the perfect tone with a harmonica. Already the listener will be drawn in. Koch’s voice isn’t soft as it has a rather raspy tone to it, even while she is hitting high notes. “Walk Away” has a driving beat behind it that you will not be able to resist tapping your foot to. One thing the listener will notice about Koch is her Southern accent. It comes out clear in her vocals and it is charming to say the least. It allows her to put a unique twist into her music that doesn’t tire.
“Texas Saturday” brings a dose of kitsch to the album, and it’s not a bad thing, though it tends not to fit into the album lyrically. The words are playful but come off as a bit childish. Telling the story of a Saturday night in Texas, the song takes the seriousness away from the music on the record in general. Picking it back up is the title track, “Shadow of This Town,” which shows Koch’s ability to write a great song. The slow picking of the guitar and brushes used on the drums set the mood for the track and it must sound even more effective in a live setting.
“Still in Love” is a touching piece that comes right from the heart. Lyrics such as “I got a thousand songs to sing you if you stay” come off as romantic and sincere. This is the standout track on this record as it showcases Koch beautifully both vocally and musically. And yes, there is a hint of banjo in there. “Too Damn Hard,” which is a low tempo song, continues to carry on the audacity of what Koch is trying to do. She doesn’t play by any rules but her own, and that is what makes a successful musician. Though the album rarely deviates from the path it was set on, it not only works, but it works well. “Settle Down” brings the energy back up and carries in with that classic harmonica that the listener will hear throughout the record. The down-down-up-up strokes of the guitar add life into a song that could come off as dull otherwise.
“Starting to See” begins with a slide guitar in a haunting tone. A new twist on the album begins when harmonies enter and the sorrowful song about heartbreak invokes the emotion in Koch’s voice. On the other side of the spectrum is “Here By My Side,” which is the complete opposite of having sadness. The track picks up not only vocally but musically with its fast paced tempo in which Libby doesn’t have a second to catch her breath. “Tonight,” continues on this route and will have the listener out of their chair and dancing in no time. Infused with a great deal of country, it will appeal to everyone no matter what type of music they enjoy. It shows another side that we haven’t seen of Koch before but seemingly it fits.
Closing out the album is “Feelin’ Good Again,” which seems like an homage to her entire piece of work. Ending with the same harmonica that carried the album in, Libby Koch managed to make a record that knows almost no boundaries with The Shadow of This Town. She plays by her own rules, and that is what will set her apart from the others and get her through to the top, where she rightfully belongs.