KYRA GORDON – “SOUL OF A SHOWGIRL” – By Paul Freeman

Berkeley, California-based singer-songwriter Kyra Gordon proves on “Soul of a Showgirl,” her debut album of original material, that she has plenty of soul, as well as abundant eloquence, a gift for memorable melodies and a stirring voice. Whether powerfully passionate or gently reflective, Gordon brings an engaging honesty and sincerity to her beautiful Americana compositions.

It’s been a long and winding road taking Gordon to this auspicious debut, including stops in Oakland, New Orleans, Hollywood and North Carolina. She studied at several schools, including California Jazz Conservatory. She produced and starred in the one-woman show “Loving Janis,” an homage to both Janis Joplin and Janis Ian.

Decades of experience and dedication have paid off in a sparkling album, displaying her songwriting and performing prowess. In addition to her impressive vocals, Gordon plays keyboards.

On the title track, “Soul of a Showgirl,” she sings, “I was born with the love of lights” and “I’ll sing a song, I’ll dance for you, reach out your hand, I’ll pull you through.” But she makes clear in the song, not everyone can relate to or accept an artist’s overriding fervor for a creative pursuit. In her own quest, nothing was going to stop Gordon.

Gordon offers a disarming poignancy in the sympathetic “Bravest One,” an inspiring tribute to a resilient friend. “Who The Hell” simmers in bluesy style.

Blues legend Tracy Nelson joins Gordon on the moving tale of “Laredo Slim,” a tribute to a fellow musical artist, the late Powell St. John. There’s a sigh-inducing country lilt to the spiritual encounter described in “Doppelganger Angel.” “Emotional Pirate” reflects Gordon’s harrowing time in a cultish artists’ commune.

Other outstanding tracks include “Greetings from East Texas,” “Tender Hearts” and the exhilarating “Big City Lights,” But there isn’t a weak cut on this album. Listeners will embrace each and every one.

Kudos to producer Rachel Efron, another of the Bay Area’s finest singer-songwriters, for achieving such an eminently pleasing sound with this record. She helps give strong identity to each of Gordon’s distinctive songs. Gordon and Efron understand just when to insert instruments like organ, harmonium and harmonica to complement the guitars, bass and drums.

With this, her first album of her own compositions, Kyra Gordon instantly establishes herself as an artist whose work is well worth exploring.

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