LAND OF MILK AND HONEY finds Eliza Gilkyson doing a splendid job of using a 1960s folk style as a template for singing about her dissatisfaction with early-21st-century issues. Gilkyson doesn't waste much time getting to the point, with the opening cut, "Hiway 9" serving as a prickly shot against the Bush administration's Middle East policy. From here, the Los Angeles native doesn't pull any punches, going from a tale of domestic abuse co-written with the song's subject (the heartbreaking "Ballad of Yvonne Johnson") to a previously unrecorded Woody Guthrie pacifist anthem ("Peace Call"). The latter is particularly interesting, since it doubles as a modern folk summit with Patty Griffin, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Iris DeMent. Gilkyson even manages to keep a familial vibe going by not only serving up a country-flavored reading of her father Terry's "Runnin Away," but getting her kids Cisco and Cordelia to provide background harmonies on "Tender Mercies," a delicate-yet-disturbing tale of mothers living in the Third World.
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