Lucy Kaplansky, who wrote (or co-wrote with Richard Litvin) three of 12 songs on her debut album, The Tide, and eight of 12 on her second album, Flesh and Bone, is responsible for nine of ten on her third album, Ten Year Night, a progression that makes this disc her most extensive personal statement yet. (The only cover tune included is Steve Earle's "Somewhere out There.") And things are taken very personally here. The title song details the singer's longterm relationship with a romantic partner, recalling the night they met a decade earlier as they drive through the night in the present. In "Promise Me," the singer is again on the road, but this time her partner is not with her and she misses him. Such songs of impassioned devotion are contrasted with examples of what used to be called "finger-pointing songs" when Bob Dylan sang them. "End of the Day" is a harsh criticism of upwardly mobile former friends and colleagues, including a talented fellow folksinger who "sold everything for a Wall Street wage." "Turn the Lights Back On" seems to be directed at a former lover, whom the singer now feels betrayed her. "That trusting girl you knew is dead and gone," she sings in the chorus. Other songs deal with family conflict and reconciliation, as "Five in the Morning" describes a woman leaving home, while "For Once in Your Life" is a grown child's recognition of what a parent went through in raising her. It's no surprise by the end of these reflections on relationships and family that at the album's end, in "A Child's Hands," the singer decides it's time to have a child of her own. Kaplansky sings these sentiments in her conversational voice, accompanied here and there by such harmony singers as John Gorka and Richard Shindell, over folk-rock arrangements featuring Larry Campbell's textured guitar lines. The result is an effective self-examination in which a woman approaching middle age recalls her past, considers her present, and ponders her future.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann