"This Town Still Talks About You" and "I'll Remember How You Loved Me" speak of what is forgotten, and what is remembered. The former track is a nostalgic affair, remembering someone Hemby and the town lost. Many small town country songs criticize all the talk that goes on in tight-knit communities, and how the gossip can often be poisonous. This song takes an alternate perspective, painting it as a good thing. They all still talk about this person they lost, because they all knew them. They all remember them. The small-town-talk is a positive in this song.
The latter track is a delicate, airy track, with Hemby speaking about selective memory and what she'll remember and what she'll forget. She assures the person that even though she might forget who the president was, she won't forget how she loved him. The song does more than just tell a love story, it speaks of the memory of feelings versus the memory of material objects. She won't remember what she was wearing, but she'll remember how she felt when he looked at her. The chorus, with the simple line, "I'll remember how you loved me" is sung much more slowly than the verses and the pre-choruses, allowing the song to build nicely and come to a soft and beautiful conclusion.
"Where the longing for the leaving and the welcome home receiving join
But I keep driving past the ghost of Cairo, Illinois."
It's an enthralling story of a town that declined in the Midwest, that slowly began to be forgotten. The town of Cairo has a troubled past, with racial tensions throughout the twentieth century, and the decline of the economy when the river trade on the Mississippi dropped. As I've been saying recently, country music has become less of a small-town genre as its popularity has increased, but on this record, the focus is back on the small towns, and the stories that people never knew.
Puxico is the story of the town Hemby calls home, but it's the story of many people. This is Hemby's first record after years of writing songs for other people, but these are the best songs she's ever written. No one else could have sung these songs nearly as well, or told these stories as well as Hemby did on this record. It's the 25th day of the year, but this will most likely end up being one of the strongest records of 2017.
Best tracks: "Cairo, IL," "I'll Remember How You Loved Me," "This Town Still Talks About You"
Throwaway tracks: none
Overall rating: 4 ½ crowns