(Loonymusik Records, 2009)
On Daisycutter, her impressive solo debut, roots music veteran Sara Milonovich hits the ground running with the up-tempo, fiddle-fueled “Country Life,” a powerhouse lament that takes on class, the plight of family farms, countryside gentrification, and the UK foot and mouth epidemic of 2001. Sound intense? It is, but as a bracing opener, it serves well, priming listeners for a deft mix of literate folk, plaintive Celtic-tinged balladry, and plenty of modern-day ass-kicking. Milonovich is a fiddler of much renown—with additional chops in the vocals and guitar department—and a life spent mostly on the road has yielded the skills to take on a wide range of material and a bevy of extremely talented friends. The high-profile pals adding to the bounty of Daisycutter include singer-songwriter Eliza Gilkyson, who executes a gorgeous solo on her own beautiful ache of a love song, “Last Dance.”
Even without the star turns, however, Milonovich emerges as both a gifted artist in her own right and an unpredictable song interpreter. The Monkees’ “Pleasant Valley Sunday” becomes a zydeco raveup; KT Tunstall’s wry but sweet “Under the Weather” is a deceptively simple ballad with tasty political overtones. The unexpected Peter Gabriel tune, “Here Comes the Flood,” offers a nice slab of electric guitar while evincing Milonovich’s penchant for the post-apocalyptic. But any lingering darkness is quickly dispersed by a rollicking take on “The Lake Arthur Stomp.” These scene changes offer a chance to process the considerable depth of the material and most importantly, to dance. www.saramilonovich.com.