This CD has been criminally overlooked since its release last month, yet there are many reasons why regular readers of this paper should pay attention to the melancholic country-pop of Megan Reilly.
For starters, sheer name-dropping alone should pique hipster interest. The album's production is top-notch, thanks to John McEntire (Tortoise) and Sue Garner. Reilly's Memphis twang sounds like a million bucks. As does the lush, ghostly accompaniment (not unlike Edith Frost's) provided by the cavalcade of indie luminaries including Tim Foljahn (Two Dollar Guitar, Cat Power), Eric Morrison (Home) on keyboards, Tony Maimone (Pere Ubu) on bass, and drummer Steve Goulding of the Mekons and Waco Brothers.
Without powerful songwriting, studio prowess is an empty gesture. But luckily, Reilly has that in spades, which is why critics at Harp and No Depression liked her first album, Arc of Tessa. Whether plaintively emoting "oh, whatever made you so tired" on the downer "Boy as a Bird" or conveying the contentment of "ever since you walked right in / My life has been complete" on the country chugger "Wedding Song," Reilly has polished a confident collection of gems as listenable as any by Gillian Welch or Cat Power. Another standout is the indie-rockin' "Tropic of Cancer," where her vocal style is reminiscent of Suzanne Vega and Laura Veirs.
There's also an unexpected local connection for Reilly ... she's married to actor Dan London, a Pittsburgh native. But other than her Mount Lebanon in-laws (who most likely already own this album), here's hoping a few more alt-country fans in the area won't wait for WYEP to tell them about Megan Reilly, if indeed the station ever gets around to it. Be among the first around here to discover her, and you'll thank me later.