Quietly releasing her first album at the end of 2020, Cynthia Marchant is going places, and with Heart Cracked Open Wide, she invites you to join her for the ride. The adventure begins with an exploration of her southern roots in Arkansas, where her early baptism into Outlaw Country was gifted to her by her mother's love of music.
Happier family times were spent around the piano, first with her grandmother, then her mom, and later with her brother, as the baton of the musicality lineage and the upright piano were passed from generation to generation. Cynthia's passion for music was born during those early years, and her mom gave her a junior size Sears and Roebuck guitar at the age of 14. That very same year marked Cynthia's first public performance as she played for a congregation of several hundred people. A girl, a guitar, and two friends adding harmony.
"Cruising", which is part of the Heart Cracked Open Wide collection, takes you speeding down the river road of the later, more rebellious teenage years in Arkansas. Surrounded by southern rock without exclusion, and moved by everything from folk to psychedelic, there was a love of adventure and a longing for new experience, and Cynthia found her way from the Rock and Roll Highway to the Crescent City, where she came of age. New Orleans funk and Dixieland had their way in shaping her sense of rhythm, and the song "Heart Cracked Open Wide" tells the story of leaving and heading west towards the sun sinking like a stone. If asked today, Cynthia will tell you that she loved everything about New Orleans except the stinky heat, and if you've been to New Orleans on those hottest days of the year, you'll know exactly what she means.
There was a long and winding road from out west to the Midwest, and Cynthia likes to say she "played at playing the guitar", while dabbling in songwriting, off and on over the years. Eventually she found her way into some very talented Chicago songwriting communities, including the Old Town School of Folk Music. In 2009, she played her first solo show of all original music at the iconic Heartland Café. A girl, a guitar, and a two hour show.
There is a universal truth to be found in Cynthia's music, and many of her songs are at their core, autobiographical. "The House on Garden Street" meshes early childhood memories of being at her grandmother's home in Oklahoma, and her granddad's, great aunt's, and great uncle's houses in the Ozarks. Many of her best childhood days were spent in the Ozarks, and in "Ima", she invites you to sing along about mashed potatoes as she tells the story of her dad's cousin. It is at her dad's funeral while sitting next to Ima, that she discovers her dad may have changed his name from Joseph Wiley to John Wayne. There's no birth certificate, so whether this is true or not is unknown, but it sure is a good story!
As a listener, you'll be drawn in and welcomed as Cynthia explores journeys of love lost, found, and imagined. She tries to make sense of a suicide that she still doesn't fully understand. Beckoning you with her warm, down to earth voice, she shares the loneliest, most intimate, and most hopeful of moments.
Chicago, IL Steve Dawson's arrangements and production provide the perfect, understated, rootsy backdrop for these beautiful, evocative songs.