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10 May 09 Album Review: Connie Mims “Go Deep”

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connie-mims-go-deepAt the recent Texas Music Awards, Connie Mims was named Songwriter of Year. Though that is an honor in itself, Connie also found herself that afternoon among a quintet of Houston songwriters, all excellent musicians and performers. This year, Connie stood out among that elite group of peers as the one selected to be Songwriter of the Year.

Behind that award is a career of songwriting and performing that started in 1973 with the acoustic group Wheatfield and the pop-rock group St. Elmo’s Fire. Connie has performed in historic venues like the Armadillo World Headquarters and L.A.’s The Troubadour. In addition, she appeared with Wheatfield in the PBS television series, “Austin City Limits”.

Connie has also performed as a songwriter and vocalist in radio ads for clients such as HEB and Casa Ole. Along two other notable women in Texas Music, Tish Hinojosa and Toni Price, she appeared in the classic Blue Bell Ice Cream commercial known as “Texas Musicians”.

Connie is not just a recipient of awards and accolades. She works hard to give back to the music community. She co-founded and facilitates The Woodlands Songwriters Association. She is also a member of the Houston Association of Acoustic Musicians (HAAM) and servers on the Board of Governors for the Texas Chapter of the Recording Academy (GRAMMYS). She teaches the craft of songwriting as part of the GRAMMY Career Day Program and the Kerrville Folk Festival Foundation Professional Development Curriculum for Teachers.

Even with all of this experience, as Connie crossed the stage in Palestine, Texas to receive her award this past April, it was evident that Connie was very excited about winning Songwriter of the Year. Fortunately for us, it’s not the culmination of her musical career because we will see much more from Connie in the future.

In her recent album, entitled “Go Deep”, Connie provides an intimate view of the rollercoaster ride through love’s rough and tumble road. Each song paints a view of wounded love, empowerment or hope of the future of love. Connie is a great storyteller, using melodies and instrumentation that enhance the message of each song.

In this album, we feel the pain of a woman who has made the decision to move on after failed love in songs like “Anywhere My Heart Goes”, “Maybe by Topeka”, “The Same” and “Hole in My Heart”. In each, however, hope peeks out through the veil of pain. We are left with the feeling that the journey forward will be a long one. In “Anywhere My Heart Goes”, Connie provides a nice Texas country sound with excellent pedal steel guitar work from Cameron Parsons. The song is structurally interesting in its use of a technique where the verses flow directly into the chorus without pause or transition. It works beautifully, emphasizing her message throughout the song.

Connie’s songs of empowerment show that one can overcome the pain of failed love if you’re willing to take your life by the reins. In “Cowgirl Up”, she’s ready to do the town up in style and “…drive those cowboys wild.” In “Lose My Light”, she lets us know that a heart is made to love, to find the light in the darkest night. In “Go Deep”, she admonishes that “In life, in love, in all that you dream of, Go Deep”.

In the title track, “Go Deep” presents the message that one has to “plunge” deeply into whatever is important to you whether love or life:

But he’s got to go deep, and look beyond the surface
Go Deep, find that higher purpose
In life, in love, in all that you dream of
Go deep.

Connie provides songs of hope for the future of love in “That’s the Way My Love Is” and “My Wedding Day”. The latter song is one of my favorites on this album. It paints a wonderful picture of all the emotions that flow not only as a mama and daddy have to deal with giving their daughter away, but also with the girl transitioning from her days as a “…tomboy in a tree” to her new life as the bride of her childhood friend.

The accordion work of Chip Dolan and violin work of Eleanor Whitmore enhance a song that shows strong South Texas influences. A brilliant touch was a brief outro where Connie leaves us with the tender thought of Daddy giving his little girl away:

Daddy puts a penny in my shoe

Another song that really jumps out for me is “Walking it Home”. The song has a wonderful bluesy sound utilizing the skill of keyboardist Riley Osbourn and harp player Tommy Dardar. The spunkiness of our songstress is highlighted in “You’re either coming with me, babe, or you’re walking it home.” Punctuated with excellent harmonica and keyboard solos, this track is a keeper.

With this album, Connie illustrates her virtuosity across multiple Texas musical styles including blues, country, and pop-rock. The production by Jack Saunders is flawless, highlighting the important elements of each song. The artists each enhance the feelings and thoughts that Connie was trying to portray.

This is definitely an album to include in your collection of Texas musicians. Connie is a shining example of the craft of Texas songwriting…and a well deserved recipient of Songwriter of the Year.

More information about Connie Mims can be found HERE.

To order her album, go to iTunes or MyTexasMusic.

Track Listing (Notable Tracks are designated with **)
1. Anywhere My Heart Goes (Connie Mims) **
2. Maybe by Topeka (Connie, Gordon Payne)
3. The Same (Connie Mims)
4. My Wedding Day (Connie Mims) **
5. Cowgirl Girl (Connie Mims, Gordon Payne)
6. Walking it Home (Connie Mims) **
7. That’s the Way My Love Is (Connie Mims and Mark Beets)
8. Hole in My Heart (Mark Beets) **
9. Lose My Light (Jack Saunders)
10. Go Deep (Connie Mims) **

Musicians
Connie Mims – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
Rick Richards – Drums
Jack Saunders – Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, 12-string guitar, Baritone Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals
Riley Osbourn – Keyboards
Cameron Parsons – Pedal Steel Guitar
Rankin Peters –Bass
Tommy Peters – Acoustic Guitar
Larry Ratajczak – Keyboards
Eleanor Whitmore – Viola, Violin
Chip Dolan – Accordion
David Spencer – Slide Guitar
Derek O’Brien – Guitar
Tommy Dardar – Harmonica
Mark Beets – Vocals

Produced by Jack Saunders

We welcome your comments about the artist and the album. 

If you know of any singers/songwriters or bands that would like us to review their albums, we would be happy to do so. They should send 2 CDs and their contact information to my office (Texas Music Journal, 8920 Pocono Dr., Plano, TX 75025). We have set a stiff goal for ourselves to have reviews for CDs on the website within 2-5 days after receiving the CDs. That gives us time to review the music and contact the artist for short interviews related to their music. We use 2 CDs as we peer review the material and then compare and contrast notes.

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