Kimberly Atwood’s upbringing in the Ozark Mountains gives her a solid grounding in the classic country sound that you can’t earn in the suburbs. Her close-knit family further buttresses that grounding. It equipped her musical DNA with the necessary core values that allowed her to venture out into the wild and wooly world of modern Nashville. She has since further strengthened her musical identity. The singer/songwriter is cut from a different cloth than many of her peers and contemporaries and it shows on her latest single “A Long Fall”. Her talents are only deepening with time and increased exposure.


The single opens with a brief synthesizer wash before the song begins in earnest. The spartan musical setting highlights her voice and the slow measured pace is fitting. It gives “A Long Fall” a chance to develop in a nuanced way and, likewise, turns the spotlight onto the track’s conversational poetry. Her imagery revolves around the natural world and there’s a deep melancholy pervading each verse. It is thoroughly accessible without ever compromising her vision for the song.

The musical arrangement isn’t any attempt to remake the wheel. Instead, the steady backbeat and ghostly pedal steel pair well and experienced listeners will expect each turn in the performance. It’s predictable in this regard, but not wearily so. We hear musicians who understand the song’s needs, they survey the sonic terrain with observant ears, and calibrate the result with singular grace and eloquent yet stripped down sophistication. Production plays a big role in the song’s strength. It achieves the aforementioned ghostly sound without ever lapsing into heavy-handed theatricality or bathos.

Her vocals are the key. She has a remarkably flexible instrument capable of conveying inner strength and sensitivity in the same breath. Listeners hearing her voice as weak, gossamer-like should listen again. This is a singer inhabiting the moment and in tune with the track’s mood rather than trying to impose her will. She is an attentive singer in other ways, as well. Atwood dials into the arrangement and tailors her vocal accordingly. The accompanying vocal harmonies scattered throughout the song are the crowning touch that expands on its emotion rather than sounding like pretty, yet ultimately meaningless adornments.

Too few modern country performers embrace sensitivity and feeling the way Kimberly Atwood does. She shows clear artistry in the way she glides through this song. Atwood leaves no emotional stone unturned and invests each line with the feeling of someone who sings from a place deep within. It’s a track that, as well, is cut to an ideal length, clocking in just under four minutes, and few if any listeners will finish the performance unsatisfied. She lays her heart bare. It will touch even the most cynical because this is unfettered emotion, not playing for any particular audience, and thoroughly alive with the everyday realities of life. Kimberly Atwood’s new single “A Long Fall” points the way toward where the genre should be going and she rates among the brightest talents working today.

Garth Thomas