Runaway’s Diary was inspired by the ramblings of Seasick Steve, and by Amy LaVere’s own brief stint as a teenage runaway. She inhabits a similar landscape to Lissie’s whole-hearted country rock, with hints of Tom Waits in his more romantic moments, but more low-key. LaVere’s voice has a pleasantly husky innocence: ‘Rabbit’ opens the album with a paean to Seasick Steve, complete with train-track percussion. ‘Snowflake’ is my favourite track, articulate, soulful and dreamy: LaVere veers from singing to speaking, which is startlingly effective, treating her listener as another self, or confidante, with direct and soulful lyrics. ‘Don’t Go Yet John’ is an affecting ditty, a small odd echoing melody unsettling its calm retelling of troubles.
The rest of the album leaves me slightly cold compared to these intimate moments, feeling more sedate and comfortable, its dances (‘Last Rock n Roll Boy To Dance’, ‘Lousy Pretender’) and ballads (‘I’ll Be Home Soon’) all solidly crafted, but a little predictable. LaVere ably intersperses covers with self-penned songs to expand her theme of ambivalent homelessness and restlessness, and her cover of Lennon’s ‘How?’ is a nice addition. The closing ‘Reprise’ ends the album on a sweetly questing beat.