I stumbled across Reina del Cid about a year or so ago. It was one of those endless journeys through Youtube where you usually trawl through a host of music, some familiar, some less so. As a fan of acoustic guitar-based music I was initially struck by the finger-picking style of her regular collaborators, Toni Lindgren and Josh Turner, but I eventually fell in love with Reina del Cid’s gentle lyrics and unforgettable music. There is a simplicity to her style, but it conveys emotion in a way that many, I suspect, can relate to.
The new album Morse Code is the third full album and benefits from greater attention to production and engineering. There is also a deep understanding of Cid’s music from a brilliant band that regularly accompany her on her weekly Sunday morning Youtube offerings that cover a wide range of styles and influences. There is the benefit of a friendship here that enables them to support without wanting to take the limelight. The playing of Toni Lindgren on guitar is staggering but nicely supportive.
The new album was released last week but at least three tracks have been released in advance. The one that has resulted in me constantly humming (to the annoyance of my wife) is the opening track ‘Goodbye Butterfly’. It is a tribute to Cid’s home state of Minnesota and captures the beauty and wonder of the landscape. I would urge you to check it out below, where you can also get an appreciation of the landscape and lake-scape.
The following track ‘Bernadette’ has a laidback style with the vocals playing behind the instruments which include interesting string arrangements. The track ‘No. 19’ benefits from the double bass and violin accompaniment and it is here where we get a sense of increasing musical maturity and willingness to allow Cid’s own style to develop.
The album feels different and a step change in her approach. ‘Sister Don’t Cry’ begins with a slow melodic guitar and violin opening but quickly breaks into an upbeat style with the song explaining a relationship with a relative who appears very different in outlook and approach to life. The slide guitar supports the melancholy lyrics, ‘Sister don’t fret, don’t worry just yet, its going to have me on my knees but don’t you forget’ but it ends with compassion as Cid asks her sister not to cry.
‘Morse Code’ is a Cid standard. It was released on an earlier album but has been rejuvenated through the guitar playing and singing of Josh Turner. The two voices work well, and the harmonies are strong. The lyrics pointing to a lost love are poignant and sensitive. ‘Come Back Over’ and ‘Mile In Your Shoes’ have the supporting musicians being given greater rein and the tracks quickly have the toes tapping and some consideration of where the lyrics are taking the listener. Once again Lindgren’s guitar playing stands out; she’s a major asset on the album.
‘Common Man’ and ‘Rubik’s Cube’ are simple songs with just two guitars and probably require more than just a couple of listening to get to the heart of. ‘All Time Low’ benefits from strong harmonies and has a sense of foreboding with a feeling that a relationship is breaking and one is trying to keep it going; showing strength and desire. Guitar strumming is at its heart. ‘Blue Sky Armageddon’ also has a dark tone and it is a shame these two tracks follow each other. The album is one of hope and love but having two dark songs next to each other in this way is, in my view, a mistake. Nonetheless, the album finishes with a reflective ‘Hold Before I’m Gone Forever’.
I have heard the album three times and I am finding new meaning and added joy in different parts of it. It is well worth a listen.