Where Did THAT Come From?

Diesel

By Kevin Gibson

While first looking at the packaging for Journey of a Girl, I expected to hear a whiny, underwhelming singer-songwriter moaning about lost love, heartbreak and fat thighs. But it's my job to listen to this stuff and offer an honest opinion about what I hear. Yeah, right. Whatever. Break out the acoustic guitars and fire up a joint already.

So I guess I should say I was a tad surprised when a cover of Cab Calloway's "The Scat Song" came bubbling out of the speakers. Like, a capella, finger-snapping and all. The hell?

Yes, this person named Diesel, who hails from Nashville, is not your typical singer-songwriter. There, I said it. And as this eight-song disc (is it an EP or a just a really short album?) unfolded before me, I found myself thinking, "Hey, this is really something different."

Who knew?

The album progresses in an interesting way, with originals filling out the tracks, with upbeat, a capella songs like "My Baby Hung the Moon" and the serene "Sun is Shining" leading into the lonely-sounding "Grace," which employs a full band. The song, lyrically, is a bit of bleak self-analysis with an undercurrent of hope sneaking in. It's a worthwhile change of pace.

"A Kindness to a Need" returns to an upbeat outlook, with gentle acoustic guitars and percussion, and some subtle bass and keys. "Jacaranda Moon" and "Simplify" round out the album.

What's the highlight here? That would have to be Diesel's warm voice. It isn't particularly distinctive, it just, well, works for the songs. It's bare emotion with enough restraint that it finds a center she never overdoes it, never sags, she just gets it right. Her voice has a "jazzy" feel, but it works for these songs, which straddle many lines.

She has cred to go with her chops too: Diesel has shared billing with Jeff Black, Garrison Starr, Larry Jon Wilson, and jazz duo Tuck & Patti, and she has played the Birchmere, NYC's Bitter End, Nashville's Belcourt Theatre and Birmingham's Workplay, and The Opry at the Ryman Auditorium.

The upshot is that Diesel will appear as part of the Woodsongs Coffeehouse series hosted by Heidi Howe, at Unity of Louisville, 757 South Brook Street.

Find out more at dieselmusic.com.