Ever since 2006, Pearls Mahone has been touring and performing live across the country, establishing herself a loyal fan base yearning to hear her throwback sound of Western Swing and Rockabilly music. Mahone’s music and albums are dictated by her live shows, with upbeat rhythms and danceable melodies through and through. One of her main influences is the one and only Bob Wills, the man whose musical influence runs deep through Swing and Country music history. Pearls Mahone’s second studio album, Echoes from the Prairie, channels nice swing sound combined with some Jazz influence to bring forth a fun, upbeat listen.
For the most part, melody and instrumentals drive Echoes from the Prairie with notable fiddles, steel guitars, and saxophones finding their way into almost every song. “Blow Your Top” and “All of Me” both kick the album off with fun, upbeat music. The lyrics are simple and repetitive, but the longer instrumental breaks create a vibrant feel with each listen. If I knew how to swing dance, I might have jumped off the couch and danced around the living room while listening to these songs. But instead, I listened to the music and the way the musicians traded the various solos and appreciated the musical variety of the songs.
“Flash of Diamonds” tells a story of a woman who says it like it is: she’s materialistic, and if any man wants to be with her then he better be ready to spoil her. This sassy, selfish tune carries a nice production and is quite enjoyable. Pearls sings of her hardship and hard-working lifestyle in “Hard Luck.” A life of little money and constantly stumbling, but those obstacles don’t slow her down. Pearls kicks up the dancing tunes again with “I Had Someone Else.” This song describes her as a rambling woman who’s not ready to settle down. There was someone before, there will be someone after you, and you’re just mine for now. And in “Oklahoma Hills” Pearls Mahone sings about a life out in Sooner State. While this Midwestern swing singer hails from Chicago, she plants herself well from this perspective in this groove.
“St. James Infirmary” might be my favorite song on the album. Sticking with her own woman attitude, Pearls Mahone sings of her man’s death. What does she do once she leaves the infirmary? She heads down to the bar to have a good time! This song chronicles the steps and thoughts she takes after his passing, and it’s quite an entertaining story. It’s well written with some great production to it. “Old Time Religion” is an old-time country gospel tune. I immediately draw comparisons to Hank’s “I Saw the Light.” The song is full of joy and love for the Lord. Echoes from the Prairie slows down for the last song, a cover of Tom Waits’ “Long Way Home.” This song details, in this case, a rambling woman whose love for the road is stronger than that for her man. And though she won’t leave him, she’ll just take the long way home from time to time.
Overall, Echoes From the Prairie is an enjoyable listen. There are several songs whose energetic mood and melody will certainly find a place in a live show. But Pearls Mahone proves she’s not just a one trick pony, providing listeners with story-driven country tunes among the dance inspired Swing songs. With sharp writing and an awesome production of blended Swing, country, and jazz, this album has a bit of everything to offer music fans. The variety isn’t choppy and the album transitions and moves smoothly. Echoes From the Prairie is an entertaining album from Pearls Mahone with fantastic instrumentation and great vocal performances.