Ten Penny Gypsy’s second studio album Fugitive Heart undercuts pre-conceived notions. It is common for albums following this musical path, Americana immersed in blues and country music influences specifically, to embrace somber songwriting subjects. The overall mood of this ten-track collection isn’t remorselessly happy-go-lucky, Ten Penny Gypsy tempers its emotional highs with maturity and a realistic point of view, but there isn’t a single point over the course of these songs when listeners will feel mired in despair. Producer Anthony Crawford, a respected musician in his own right, is Justin Patterson and Laura Lynn Danley’s creative partner moreso than many working in that role – the album has an immaculate sound and his veteran playing skills make a positive impact on the songs. It’s a notable successor to their self-titled debut album – their confidence is apparent in each of Fugitive Heart’s ten cuts.
“Making Headway” hit me as a winner with the first listen. Follow-up listens only solidified its appeal. Ten Penny Gypsy isn’t shy about including tracks with a brisk pace without ever overwhelming listeners and this is one of many points where Crawford’s contributions are essential. His production talents maintain a spotless balance between the instrumentation and weave an unified sound from the outset. You won’t hear any jarring sonic touches on this album and “Making Headway” is an ideal illustration of the tandem’s musical aesthetic. This is a perfect opener for Ten Penny Gypsy’s second full-length collection.
The slide guitar you hear in the second track “Brick by Brick” flavors the album with bluesy accents. These will recur throughout the album’s ten songs, but it is one part of the duo’s overall presentation rather than a dominant style. Danley and Patterson incorporate a wide scope of traditional instruments into these tracks referencing folk, blues, and country music. The singer/songwriter point of view unites their work under a single banner. “Fugitive Heart”, the album’s title song, packs quite a wallop without ever upsetting the work’s balance. It will be popular with many listeners for several reasons, but one of its most endearing qualities is its construction. Mixing a strident mid-tempo pace with the light and shade of the musical arrangement makes this a dynamic listening experience.
You can hear the country influences running through “Lovely Melancholy” from the first. The twangy electric guitar, near-shuffle beat, and its relaxed pacing will draw many listeners into its web within the first minute and the vocals, lead and harmony alike, neatly dovetail into the song’s mood. Slide guitar returns for the blues-soaked sixth track “Road to Memphis” and its paired with soulful acoustic guitar counterpointing the electric. Patterson’s voice has enough grit to make this a convincing listening experience.
The sparkling piano during “Lonesome No More” complements the melodic guitar work prevalent in the arrangement. Patterson and Danley have rock solid consistency throughout Fugitive Heart and it reaches a late peak with their performance on this song. It, once again, rifles through the past for much of its language while still retaining an identity of its own. These are the highlights of the tandem’s second studio album, but there isn’t a single track on this release qualifying as filler. Each of the ten tracks find their mark with you to a greater or lesser degree. Ten Penny Gypsy’s Fugitive Heart is a contender for one of the best Americana themed releases in recent years.