The release of UK based My Girl The River’s sophomore album “Cardinal In The Snow” this Friday sees the family band’s driving force Kris Wilkinson Hughes not only having to deal with all the challenges the current pandemic throws at artists but also with the recent loss of her mother, Judy. One of the band’s biggest fans, Judy lived in the Southern States where Kris was born and raised and was instrumental in bringing the album to fruition by helping fund the project. Sadly this February Judy passed away in a hospice in Jackson, Mississippi, Kris fortunately managing to get there from the UK despite a nightmare of delayed and cancelled flights, the day after she arrived her mother fell into a coma and never woke up.
But deciding to continue with the album release was a very conscious decision. As Kris explains “my Mom wouldn’t want me to stop. She would want to hear all about it… stuck at home with an oxygen tank for a best friend and essentially housebound, she lived vicariously through me, and my adventures in singing and music were hers too“. She continues “This gives me something to focus on. It lifts me up“.
The follow up to their 2016 debut album “This Ain’t No Fairytale”, Kris wrote all twelve tracks for the new project and also acted as co-producer alongside Grammy nominated Neilson Hubbard (who has worked with the likes of Mary Gauthier, Amy Speace and Ben Glover) – Hubbard also kept the back beat on the drums. Recorded in East Nashville last May, it features some of music city’s finest session musicians as well as of course Kris (acoustic guitar/lead vocals), her partner Joe Hughes on bass and contributions too from their daughter Ruby on vocals and ukulele.
Although written and recorded before all this sadness, some of the tracks are eerily prescient… the opening track “Something In the Water” for example is a song full of hope , which we all need at the moment for sure, and in the most recent single “I Try” Kris addresses her guilt at not being in touch with her mother as often as she should have, and of course tragically it’s now too late. Although it’s the only full band live track on the album, the single is a good indications of what to expect, guitar led songs with stunning lap steel and string accompaniments and thought provoking lyrics delivered from the heart by Kris’s smooth, soulful voice.
Even lockdown didn’t stop them filming a video to accompany the song, they asked friends and family to send video clips which they interspersed with their own.
Of the album, Kris says “I hope it helps people when they hear it, in some way. Maybe a song will resonate with them and they’ll feel understood or feel a little better, like they’re not alone”.