For just two people, Heather Luttrell and the Possumden can pack a surprising amount of sound into one short moment. With vocals that expand for blues and contract for ballads, lithe percussion, and enough guitar and banjo to string you along for days, Heather Luttrell (known as Possumdiva) and the Possumden create music that is both geographically and artistically unique. Their album was released in 2012 and is called Possumdiva. They’ll be playing the W Atlanta Midtown later this week, so I gave their album a listen. It’s the sort of album that does not require closed-toe shoes.
The first track, “Road Home to Hell,” sets the mood for the album with a combination of plucky steel strings and IDGAF vocals. The lyrics describe how sometimes, even the best intentions can turn pear-shaped. Heather’s vocals are those of a woman who undoubtedly owns a denim jacket (and wears it well). “Broken Conversation” intertwines the lower notes of a guitar with the higher, metallic notes of banjo. The acoustic sound fills the space like meringue, and Heather’s vocals take playful turns with the drum. Listening to this album is like biting into a pastry that you know is probably filled with something, but you’re just not sure what.
An absence of drum in “Siren Song” leaves vocals alone with the strings, giving the track an ethereal quality. As does the quick 1:05 duration. Pay attention or you’re miss it before the bluesy “Redemption” begins. This is the sort of thing you hear on the street in Asheville, crossing your fingers and making a wish that the buskers will “make it”. “Redemption” has a gritty realism to parallel the presentation. The lyrics narrate the ballad of a woman’s revenge on a cheating man.
The next track features that chugging beat that, sauntering toward Americana country, invites Heather’s powerful vocals to dance. And dance they do. “Mera Parivar” suggests to the listener years of intensive study. This composition runs on the sort of piano that might be accompanied by a woodsy streamside scene (picture a Bob Ross masterpiece), embellished with alternating strings. The result is a beautiful progressive piece of music.
“Dr. Feelgood” features vocals that could convince listeners of anything. This is a track that, much like the surprise accompanying a blown tire, blasts the listener into another world, at least momentarily. These three and a half minutes of voice and a stripped down instrumental bring an intimacy to the album that was not there before. The next track, “More Fun to Sin,” has a taste of something that humankind has always engaged in, no matter where in history you look. Heather is a modern-day bard, telling her stories with a flourish, and infecting the world with the desire to dance.
Heather’s earnest vocals tiptoe gracefully over a tantalizing guitar-percussion combination in “What Is Wanting.” It’s no surprise that she’s played with several veterans of Lilith Fair. But she’s not just any broad with a voice; she can do blues, too. And she does it beautifully in “He’ll Do Till He Quits Doin,” a rolling track about the consistency of the ideal mate.
A more picnicky approach is taken in “Any Old Way,” shifting to a warmer sound that contrasts with the previous track. The solo gives the listener the feeling of being just an hour from home late at night on familiar roads. A sort of warm anticipation and quiet contentment, because you can be sure of the path ahead and the end result. The final track on Possumdiva, “Well Done Is Better Than Well Said,” takes the album back down home. This is a track to sing with your friends. A track to wave small American flag to. Maybe even a track to blast during a mud run. Or maybe just to hum while you water your plants.
Possumdiva is a remarkably versatile album that puts on display the range of talents lurking in just two Atlanta musicians. Heather Luttrell and the Possumden belong on the soundtrack of the South. Add Possumdiva to your Libro Musica today. And if you are lucky on Thursday, you’ll find yourself at their show at the W Hotel in Atlanta.