On ‘Cottonwood’ Megan Bee articulates the highs and lows of nostalgia, longing, and heart-shaking ecstasy

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Megan Bee has a knack for articulating the highs and lows of love, loss, and joy all within the span of a 30 seconds of her enviably clever songcraft. On her latest, the alternatively soul-searing and ecstatic “Cottonwood,” Bee embodies this more than ever.

The album’s eponymous opening track feels like a gentle tonic for the troubled soul — and maybe the not so troubled one, too.

Within it, over a simultaneously comforting and yearning blend of banjo, guitar and occasional harmonica, the listener learns how cottonwood trees shake and shimmer distinctively in the breeze – something we’ve all been known to do at one time or another. (Figuratively, at least.)

While Bee can evoke a sense of nostalgia, longing, and heart-shaking ecstasy – she can do all that and still maintain a sense of humor – one of the things that makes her work so remarkable. Take “Snowplow,” for example.

Anyone who has lived in the country for a few winters understands how driving a snowplow intrinsically has a particular kind of “personal power” as it were, attached to it. As the listener finds out in increasingly amusing (and true ways) as the song draws to a close – the protagonist of “Snowplow” just isn’t too impressed with said snowplow operator anymore. Ending relationships or anything-ships is difficult, upsetting, frustrating, but also empowering, and the protagonist of “Snowplow” knows this well.

Megan Bee

“Snowplow” is followed by “Never Known,” and this is one of the album’s soul-searing numbers. Told from the perspective of a life that never had a chance to live, we’re reminded of how wonderful it is to be alive – and certainly alive as a part of a family – at all. Regardless of how dysfunctional families may be or how uncomfortable living can get.

Bee flexes her talent for crafting an image and turning it on its head with enormous emotional effect with mid-album gem “Ecstasy.” In it, Bee steadily grows the listener’s heart about tenfold. First with nostalgia framed with growing concern, and then with a masterful finishing stroke opening with a quiet chuckle and ending (for the listener) with a bittersweet tear.

The world is confusing, and so is the way we relate to it. “Fickle” articulates this oscillating hope, pain, and bittersweetness – or perhaps watching those we love experience it — effortlessly.

Closing track “Fall Down” eloquently pulls the listener in with a sort of grateful, gorgeous melancholy told from a soft bed of autumn grass. From that perspective, on the ground, looking up — the listener can see an awful lot. Perhaps even the distinctive shimmer of the cottonwood tree, whose leaves turn golden as summer softens into fall.

Megan Bee has many live performances coming up this spring. March dates include a March 6 performance at Winter Music at the Mall, at the Grand Central Mall in Parkersburg, WV; and a March 26 show at the Eclipse Company Store in The Plains. Find all of Bee’s upcoming dates, and purchase “Cottonwood,” as well as any of her three previous releases, at