Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

Donna Beasley: Reviews

Under The Rushes is an "excellent example of song craftsmanship..."

"—Ms. Beasley’s CD has a cast that’s a who’s-who of the Music City alt-country scene, including Chuck Mead, Elizabeth Cook, Kenny Vaughan, Tim Carroll and Bob Britt. On its title tune, her languid vocal spins a tale of small-town romance, pregnancy and betrayal. Highly recommended."

On the opening track of Under the Rushes, Donna Beasley characterizes herself as “a hillbilly singer in a town of pop stars,” but the album that follows settles just as frequently, and just as effectively, into a sort of slinky Americana territory, country instrumentation mingling with an untwanged voice that could just as easily veer pop.

As a songwriter, though, her sensibility is firmly country. On “Just What I’m Looking For,” sung with Elizabeth Cook and Tim Carroll somewhere in the background, she’s feeling a little dangerous, throwing herself into the arms of a man she knows will probably be nothing but bad news in the long term. Meanwhile, title track “Under the Rushes” is a classic story song about emergent womanhood, delivered with strength and clarity from an omniscient distance. The album’s most country moment, though, is “Makin’ Love,” on which a duet vocal from Chuck Mead proves a nice but ultimately unnecessary bonus: Beasley could just as easily have carried the song on the strength of her own performance.

Whether Under the Rushes has any impact with the general audience or not, it should be on the radar of the Nashville recording community, if only so they can pillage it for wildly successful cover versions as they do (or once did) with new releases from Bruce Robison and Radney Foster. At her best, Beasley is that caliber of writer. Here Nashville, I’ll do some of the work for you: resilient Texas rocker “Heart Like a Wound” belongs on Miranda Lambert’s next album, and “The Little Things” is a classic Pam Tillis torch song. Oh, and if Beasley doesn’t have a hit with the title track, some other Americana chanteuse probably could.

An indie album on which I can recommend at least half the tracks is a rarity, so you can bet that checking out Beasley’s previous album, Good Samaritan, just got added to my musical to-do list.

"Under The Rushes is Nashville singer/songwriter Donna Beasley's second CD. She says it's more introspective and inclusive. We say it's delightfully full of heart-felt stories, all worth listening to." 

This is Beasley’s second collection of Appalachian-infused Americana music, rooted in country but encompassing a wide range of styles and influences. Featuring 11 original songs, eight written by Donna and three Donna co-wrote with her producer/guitarist/husband, Tom Spaulding.  The approach to Rushes was the same: productions that serve the individual songs without being limited by genre considerations. Rely upon the strength of the writing and Donna’s distinct vocal sound as unifying elements. While the writing and production follow a journey around the musical horn, the voice is firmly planted in East Tennessee soil.  Recommended!

‘Heart and soul from Tennessee.’

Donna Beasley has certainly had a full and complex life; from being a door to door evangelist, to a magician’s assistant and being on Prozac. From East Tennessee and developing her song writing career from a life time of heartache, depression and suicidal tendencies, she now releases ‘Under The Rushes’.

Essentially a country record which enlists the talents of Elizabeth Cook, Tim Carroll and Chuck Mead who certainly add that classic Americana essence, throughout there is the wholesome acoustic guitar sound and ramblings of banjos, mandolins and pedal steel particularly highlighted in ‘Makin’ Love’. There are some surprises with tracks like ‘The Little Things’ which is far more stripped back to just a piano and a very soulful vocal from Beasley with enchanting harmonies.

The songs themselves are very well written and quite obviously etched from the world which Beasley has been tormented with and now clearly overcome. There are also some good catchy pop songs here too, ‘Really That Good’ is a track where Beasley lets her hair down and takes herself a little less seriously. It does have that Cheryl Crow vibe to it including the over country-esque guitar licks but it fits well with the record and does give it a lift. No doubt that this is an album produced by the heart and soul.


Date review added:  Monday, September 06, 2010
Reviewer:  Will Bray
Reviewers Rating:

Will Bray - Americana UK (Sep 6, 2010)

Under The Rushes is "beyond words...a musical gem, a cd that will last in people's minds...unforgettable recordings."

Mike Penard - Mike, The Frenchy, ISO Radio, France (Sep 6, 2010)

"I enjoyed Donna Beasley's excellent voice and approach to country music. Her cd is an amazing one and I'll be glad to add it to my radio show called 'Happy Trails' on Susa Onda Radio, Italy."

Remo Ricaldone - Susa Onda Radio, Italy (Sep 17, 2010)

Donna Beasley comes from Dolly Parton's hometown in East Tennessee and now lives in the bohemian district of East Nashville. Her father worked in the same cotton factory for 36 years and she had a strict religious upbringing where it was a sin to go to movies or listen to rock 'n' roll. So she has genuine country credentials and a lot of these elements come out in her songs, which Beasley describes as "Appalachian Fusion Music." 

Under The Rushes is her second album. All the songs are composed by Beasley with three co-written with husband / producer Tom Spaulding. It is a nicely balanced set with sparkling melodies, attractive vocal harmonies and a variety of tempos and moods. You Wouldn't Know Love kicks things off with a brief two minutes of jolly rockabilly pleasure, Really That Good is a joyous love song that has a pop vibe and Nothing Ever Good Enough draws on country blues influences in a measured song about desperation that perfectly demonstrates the expressiveness of her vocal delivery. 

The title track describes young lovers escaping from a prayer meeting for an al fresco assignation, and the gospel of Wholly Satisfied has an ambiguous lyric that could either be about love or religious inspiration. Just What I Am Looking For features a sultry performance from Beasley her voice lagging seductively just behind the beat and harmony vocals provided by her East Nashville neighbours Elizabeth Cook and Tim Carroll. Beasley also sounds sensuous on Can I Get A Ride, which reminds me of Kim Richey in its construction and delivery, and Makin' Love compares constructing a house with building a relationship and is a duet with Chuck Mead of BR549 fame. The lyric of Heart Like A Wound has a Johnny Cash-like vulnerability that Beasley combines with an organ and harmonica crescendo that recalls Bruce Springsteen. 

Beasley has an adaptable voice and she admirably stretches herself both in vocal range and musical diversity, so one can forgive the occasional off-key moment. Beasley's debut Good Samaritan was impressive, but her songwriting ability has blossomed on Under The Rushes

This is the second album from talented singer-songwriter, Donna Beasley and is comprised of wonderful authentic country music. This Appalachian lady has lived a somewhat chequered life, having grown up in strict Baptist school environment where it was a sin to go to movies or listen to rock and roll music. Later came such diverse work as a door-to-door evangelist, an AIDS worker, a magician's assistant and a maid. All the time there's been music - church music, Appalachian ballads and even honky-tonk. Donna didn't start writing songs until she was 30, but she had a life-time of experiences to draw upon. This album features eleven stunning songs, eight all her own work, and three co-writes with hubby Tom Spaulding, who plays various guitars, harmonica and is the album's producer. The production is clear and mainly understated and features Scott Neubert (guitar, banjo, Dobro, mandolin), Tony Paoletta (pedal steel), Phil Madeira (accordion, B3 organ), Kenny Vaughan (electric guitar), Matt Combs (fiddle), Michael Webb (piano, B3 organ) not to mention Elizabeth Cook, Tim Carroll and Chuck Mead who guest with harmony vocals.

Fittingly, Donna reaches new heights on this spirited and engaging album that finds the accomplished singer-songwriter continuing to hone her craft with the skill of a confident artist. If you want proof, just skip through to track seven Nothing's Ever Good Enough, a rich, slightly jazzy song that will cut through to your inner soul. Then you need to backtrack to the opening You Wouldn't Know Love a lively tune with a combination of charming harmonies and easy flowing country beats. Sit back and relax to the free and easy flowing Just What I’m Looking For that also features some well-balanced harmonies courtesy of Tim and Elizabeth, gentle banjo and neat accordion and B3 interplay. This is genius at work in the studio. But the heart and soul remains intact and Donna shows she has the knack for penning a yarn we can all understand in Under The Rushes, which tells of a young girl becoming pregnant and the chilling repercussions. Just as impressive is Makin’ Love, a well-written country song about a couple setting out on life’s journey building dreams while making love. BR5-49’s Chuck Mead adds a subtle duet vocal and the fiddle-driven arrangement is just note perfect. An album that is really a keeper and so different to other female singer-songwriters currently flooding us out. 

Next up is Donna Beasley, another ex member of a fundamentalist church, in this case Baptist, who told her it was a sin to listen to rock and roll or go to the movies. Thankfully she’s moved on and on Under the Rushes she has a fine stab at contemporary Americana Nashville music. Cosseted by some fine players and singers including Elizabeth Cook and Tim Carroll Ms Beasley is another sultry alt-country siren. Just what I’m Looking For is a cracking song, tasty guitar licks, banjo and accordion melt into a seductive stew while Can I Get a Ride is Dobro heaven. Heart Like a Wound is a song that Steve Earle could have written and the jaunty Makin’ Love is a honeysuckle rose of aw shucks country music. Overall a fine album.

Donna Beasley has moved live a behind the back, especially influenced through strictly Christian principles.  Thus no films, rock' n music, skirts only and that kind of business.  Her first steps on music territory had to make also everything with God and the church.  On her 17e, the rebellion, after that comes will write a period with depressiviteit and suïcidale tendencies till they on her 30e songs.  In 2007 comes her first CD out, 'Good Samaritan', with 'Under the rushes' is Donna closed at her second collection songs in a country-folk style that they self 'Appalachian fusion' names. of,.  She lives and works meanwhile in East Nashville and has many support at her spouse, gitarist, coproducer, assistant-writer (three songs, the remaining eight on the CD its of Donna self) Tom Spaulding.  The result may be there.  Under the rushes' my CD-player has and ipod many times bekoord.  Donna’s voice is pleasant, is know the music without lake excellent, the 11 numbers on the CD an amusing varition, with folk, country and bluegrass as the voornaamste influences.  Fiddle, banjo, mandoline, pedal steal and play dobro an important role in the begeleding with as a voornaamste exporting the multi-instrumentalisten Scott Neubert and afore-mentioned Tom Spaulding.  Bark and hear drums its in all tracks person present, occasionally we piano, organ and accordeon.  Chuck Mead sings a song with.  

'Under the rushes' is an excellent CD be (country-folk) genre in and earns a good response.  Once will listen and join in.



Good Samaritan press