The Freelance Mentalists.
Tuesday, July 30, 2019
  Mohair Sam Is Always Greener: Nash Scene ballot, comments, related (2018)

(uproxx, pazz, etc:
Top Ten Country Albums of 2018
 (just in the order they come to mind):

Willie Nelson: Last Man Standing
Brandi Carlile: By The Way, I Forgive You
Pistol Annies: Interstate Gospel
Various Artists: King of the Road: A Tribute To Roger Miller
Various Artists: Johnny Cash: Forever Words---The Music
Various Artists: Blaze (Original Cast Recording)
Eric Church: Desperate Man
John Prine: The Tree of Forgiveness
Becky Warren: Undesirable
Lori McKenna: The Tree

Top Five Country Reissues of 2018:

Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard
Sing Me Back Home: The DC Tapes 1965-1969
Jerry Garcia: Before The Dead
George Jones and the Jones Boys: Live In Texas 1965
Charlie Rich: Too Many Teardrops---The Complete Groove 
& RCA Recordings
Various Artists: Outlaws & Armadillos---Country’s Roaring ‘70s

Imaginary Categories:
Country Hon. Mentions:

1.Terri Clark: Raising the Bar
2.Ashley McBryde: After Awhile
3. Loretta Lynn: Wouldn’t It Be Great
4. Roland White and Friends: 
A Tribute To The Kentucky Colonels

Country About Half Good (45-60%):
 Brothers Osborne: Port Saint Joe

Country Reissues About Half Good:
Garth Brooks: Triple Live
(Even though in an Imaginary Category, counted as
Reissue because of  real Scene ballot rules re when it 
was recorded)

Countryoid/Americana/Related Top Ten Albums:
1.Bettye LaVette: Things Have Changed
2. Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore:
 From Downey to Lubbock
3. Chris Smither: Call Me Lucky
4. Fairport Convention: What We Did on Our Saturday
5. Mary Gauthier: Rifles and Rosary Beads
6. Christy Hays: 
 River Swimmer
7.  Ashley Monroe: The Sparrow
8.  Willie Nelson:  My Way
9. Los Centzontles/Atilano López Patricio: Alma P’urhépecha 
10.  Hot Buttered Rum: Lonesome Panoramic

Related Hon. Mentions: 
1. Heathen Apostles: Bloodgrass Vol. 1 & 2
2. Cat Power: Wanderer
3. Patricia Vonne: Top of the Mountain
4. Liz Cooper & The Stampede: Window Flowers

Related About Half Good (45-60%):
 1.Maria Muldaur: Don’t You Feel My Leg: 
The Naughty Bawdy Blues of Blu Lu  Barker
 2. Lindi Ortega: Liberty
 3.  3hatrio: Lord of the Desert
 4. Loudon Wainwright III: Surviving Twin
5. Linda Thompson: 
 My Mother Doesn't Know I'm on the Stage

Related Reissues:
1. Fairport Convention & Friends: A Tree With Roots
2. NRBQ: s/t
3. Cowboy: Boyer & Talton (Expanded Edition)
4. Geoff & Maria Muldaur: Sweet Potatoes
5. Geoff & Maria Muldaur: Pottery Pie
6. Various Artists: Cover Me: The Eddie Hinton Songbook

Related Hon. Mention Reissue:
Uncle Walt’s Band: Anthology: Those Boys From Carolina,
 They Sure Enough Could Sing...

Related About Half-Good Reissues:
Loudon Wainwright III: Years In The Making

Country Comments:
Becky Warren's War Surplus Deluxe---
2017 reissue of the 2016 original, worth getting for the bonus tracks
---is a song cycle about life, lives, in a 
Southern-sounding military town. 
2018’s Undesirable is less fluid, less-back-and-forth,
 seemingly less concerned with verbal particulars, 
more about sonic particulates in the gritty atmosphere 
(although WSD has plenty of those).
 Here she just cranks up the rhythm guitar and drives
 on through the smog, keeping an eye on everything, of course
---while the previous album was where I'd hoped Isbell 
might reach, considering the highlights of his DBT 
contributions and debut album (where he was backed by
 the Truckers, come to think of it), 
this is more like if they backed her
---possibly with some DBT co-writes
---but she doesn't need any of that. Although Truckers,
 Stones, maybe Petty and the Heartbreakers are 
influences, she's got her own voice, 
and I think of this as rocking country 
(the kind with lots of living, dying and killing
 time in the rear-view, watching for lots more ahead).
Oh yeah, she does have some stand-out tracks, 
writing-wise, especially "Sunshine State," where she's
 calling to say she's out of prison, ain't mad at ya, 
just checking in, be good now, bye-bye.

Xgau's always been big on McKenna, so when he 
wrote that The Tree was a bit too close to the writer's
 workshop---with what used to be called kitchen sink 
realism getting out of hand, sliding from the quotidian to the 
no-shit-sherlock---I thought 'Uh-oh." 
But, not that far in effect from Warren's Undesirable, McK's 
sound immediately took me way into the winter sky 
over the kitchen sink---which is still full of dishes, 
but she's going out for a while, back later, honey &
 kids (that's the verbal gist of one song, the feel of 
quite a few, if way down in there, sometimes). 
The singing doesn't seem nearly so constrained here
 (what the hell, it's her tenth album).

In a fairly recent interview, Willie Nelson's mentioned 
taking good medical advice, at least that one time, 
so he must or should know it's not entirely by accident 
that he's 'bout the Last Man Standing of his generation's 
country music stature. But he also must know he's short
and that the not-famously hygienic Jerry Lee is also 
still standing, whenever he gets up from the piano. 
So no need for posturing here, though the wry punchlines
 are just part of the candid camera shots, of current self 
and others: "You'll know me, 
I'm the one with his head up his ass," yeah can't miss it,
 not many of those around. But also the quips are
 rhythm joeks, feeding the grooves, pick up the tempo
 and don't let it hit you on the way out.

Pistol Annies' Interstate Gospel have a tough-minded, reasonably 
good-humored post-post breakup album, with 
yet more songs or lines I haven't heard elsewhere
---somebody must've beat them to the one about
 love ain't enough, rat?? But theirs really is 
a "Leaver's Lullaby," a carefully placed kiss-off. 
The one about not leaving any money in the "Commissary" 
account for a seriously no-good jailbird family member
---not this time---is another underutilized country etc bit, 
and its work song chant not only mocks the poor-me 
prisoner, but suggests the way relatives of such can 
get strung out, at best "runnin' on a long chain,"
 to quote Larry Jon Wilson on a not entirely 
dissimilar way of life.
(Sidetrip? Ashley Monroe’s latest solo flight, The Sparrow,
 veers through layers of experience and reverie
---she’s plausibly said it comes out of a “therapython”
---riding silhouette strings with disarming confidence, 
shaping a countryoid personal cosmography that seems
 more art here, more pop there, is always both, and always
 good, I think.  Seems a bit esoteric under the eaves, 
but can well imagine it further flexing this 
simple male mind.)

On Dickens & Gerrad’s** Sing me Back Home,
 across 19 tracks the duo sings 
the classic country of The Carter Family, The Louvin Brothers, 
and Jimmie Rodgers; contemporary hits of the 1960s
 penned by Dolly Parton and Merle Haggard;
 and barn-burning traditional standards that blur the line 
between old-time and 
early bluegrass... a raw, unfiltered listen to Hazel & 
Alice at 
the height of their collaborative... Yes, thanks Bandcamp! 
Not always crazy about some of the grimmer verses, but 
I know those voices will blast me 'round the mountain on the 
choruses. Now I want to check the s/t of the 
Strange Creek Singers: D&G w Mike Seeger and Tracy 
Schwarz of the New Lost City Ramblers (also Lamar Grier.
 maybe better known for playing banjo with Bill Monroe). 
Also want finally to check the Ramblers; 
where should I start?
*From 2014 picks: Alice Gerrard, Follow The Music:
Strong subtle vox, smokey mountain ballads. Some brush by, at times preoccupied, usually  beguiling; others hover: all are waiting for a train. Trad & originals, most sufficiently personalized, despite formalist connotations, 0 twang or trills needed. Fiddle, a cappella, dobro, ragtonk, just whatever's right. Production by Hiss Golden Messenger, with backing by members of HGM and Megafaun, led by Seattle-born DC mainstay AG, 80, deep enough into the mountains and more.

They're namechecked several times by Garcia on 
Before The Dead, incl. the set prev released as Folk Time**
after the Stanford radio show where it was taped. 
(Already have a couple other inclusions on boot, but 4 remastered 
CDs for $19.99, so no prob.) 
The whole thing starts on May 26, 1961, with a hootenanny
 at Brigid Meier's sixteenth birthday party (she's so excited!) 
Set is very nice, made distinctive by Garcia's instantly 
recognizable singing, which, as on most of the rest of the box,
 doesn't have that high lonesome Dead etc. pitch, but is clear 
and contemplative and unaffected. Usually with future 
New Rider David Nelson,
 pretty often with Robert Hunter, and several guys I really 
need to look up, he gets more and more into banjo
--a bit more than I am, at times---but still got the guitar 
and those pipes. Quickly moves toward mastery
(far as I can tell) of old-timey and
bluegrass, wheee!
One blemish: 
a set of songs of the American People complaining about 
marriage/wives, carefully selected for polished performances 
with his own first wife (who sounds pretty good), about a 
week after their wedding (he calls the exact time). 
She and the audience chuckle when he mentions this, 
but it reminds me of a bootlegger who claimed that Jerry
 sold all their wedding gifts to buy a guitar, and I'm sure
 he played it well. This already-disenchanted evening's a bummer, man, but at least it's brief.
**(Hart Valley Drifters’  2016 Top Five Reissue Folk Time
(Although, as I said there, not much dobro that I've noticed
But Norm Van Maastricht gets bonus points for his name, 
he does a lot more later in this box.)

A couple of tweets:

Charlie Rich, Too Many Teardrops 
- The Complete Groove & RCA Recordings: Choirs, strings 
oops upside your head, 
get bearable and even occasionally useful, incl. killing 
weakest songs. Always we get Big Ol Charlie on lil cat feet
---that voice, them keys! 

George Jones/Jones Boys: Live in TX '65: Brave ballads of
self-torture x "C Jam Blues," "White Lightnin'," "Bony Maronie,"
 "B Bowman Bop." Panhandle Rag," "Jole Blon," 
JB trusty/Bladerunner
 crooner also cool w girl part on
 "We Must Have Been Out of Our Minds," heavy guests too. 
Guests incl. steel guitarist Buddy Emmons and fiddlers Red Hayes 
and (on "Jole Blond") Rufus Thibodeaux ("Two-By-Four,"
 George calls him). The JBs crooner is Don Adams
---android-sounding, strangely(?) satisfying.
Ace notes:

Not many icons of 1950s and 1960s country music ever made a live album during country’s golden age. One of the select few who tried was George Jones, whose producer H.W. “Pappy” Daily hired mobile equipment and taped George and the Jones Boys at Houston’s famous honky-tonk Dancetown USA sometime in early 1965. Although he claimed to have a cold, George was in fine form that night, but significant audio problems that could not have been easily fixed in the 60s caused Daily to shelve the tapes and abandon the notion of releasing any kind of live set on his most eminent discovery.

In the 1980s Ace was offered the opportunity to do something with the tapes and leapt at the chance of putting out a selection of the recordings as a vinyl album tiled “Live At Dancetown USA”. Around a decade later, we issued the full show as a CD to great acclaim.Our previous issues of this material on vinyl and CD were taken from original 2-track mono tapes and mastered that way. This newly remastered release, re-titled “Live In Texas 1965”, presents the recordings in glorious mono, as it would have been issued in 1965. A mono mix gives the listener a more satisfying audio experience. It also reduces the extraneous hiss and sundry noise that was considerably more exposed on the raw 2-track tapes. This new master presents the precious archive material in the best possible sound, without compromising in any way the integrity of the performances of George and the Jones Boys as they sounded in a Texas dancehall in early 1965.

The once-brief booklet has been expanded, with a lengthy new note and some era-appropriate photographs that were not available to us previously, and the instrumental tracks have been correctly titled. All these changes are for the better, we hope you’ll agree.

Few live sets have ever put the listener front-and-centre in the way this one does. You can hear all kinds of shouts from the audience for specific songs, as well as George’s responses. Announcements over the club’s tannoy frequently match or override George’s stage announcements. The atmosphere generated on the tapes is so vivid that you can almost taste the beer and smell the smoke from a thousand cigarettes. There’s an opening set from the Jones Boys, fronted by George’s label-mate and harmony vocalist Don Adams, together with some brief instrumental workouts that showcase the versatility of the musicians...

 George himself never had another stab at cutting a live album until the 1980s, so this priceless document of one of the genre’s greatest voices singing most of his important early hits at his 1960s best is all the more valuable for that.

Tony Rounce 

More ( this from I Love Music’s Charlie Rich thread) about

Too Many Teardrops:
...After a couple of listens, I've found it surprisingly easy to 
get used to the strings and choirs, although some Disc 2 
incidents are still annoying, and maybe scale-tipping on 
the more dubious material---that's okay though; that's what 
he and/or the suits get for too much turdpolishing: like Elvis,
 Sinatra, Willie etc., he's found that he can effectively apply his 
signature sound to inferior imitations of his top-shelf line of goods,
 and so he does, and I admit there are at least partially 
redeeming moments in most(?) of the worse, though not worst,
Not many of this last category though!
A good number of the rolling piano jazz-blues-rock tracks 
I always favor, starting right off with "Big Boss Man," 
soon followed by "River Stay Away From My Door,"
 later a very sassy "Ol' Man River," such as 
Jerry Lee might approve, then a more respectful vocal 
on "The Twelth of Never," though that beloved tearjerker 
now goes thunkin' along. Mercy!
Also a couple of intriguing ballads written by Freddie Hart:
"Too Many Teardrops" starts out feeling for a fella who lost 
his love to the narrator, yet"I did what any man would do"
---emphasis on "man" because the cry guy wasn't 
"strong enough to play the losing hand"
--crying and drinking yourself to death doesn't count 
as a well-played losing hand, so what does? Revenge, mebbe? 
Doesn't say.
The other Hart-written track, "There Won't Be Any More, " 
has a terse lilt that somehow reminds me of some British 
Invasion tracks, like uhhh covers like 
"Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying"? But with more attitude.
The Riches-written (lots of originals here) "The Grass Is 
Always Greener" advises that, 
"You may think you're rollin' in clover
/But you better think it over.”
The Complete Smash Sessions is the place to start,
 but this is def worth checking out.
40 tracks, all worth hearing at least once, and I like at least
---28? Love at least an LP's-worth.

I agree w xgau that Outlaws and Armadillos has a lot of 
the right artists, but not always the right tracks.
 I get that Johnny Cash was a mavericky inspiration to 
Outlaws and Texastentialists, and the Stones' take 
on country also pertained, but why, pray tell, does 
this set select his version of "No Expectations"? 
Maybe Townes Van Zandt's cover of "Dead Flowers" 
would be better? Haven't heard it, but a lot of things 
would be better. Cash's ain't-sorry "Sam Hill" on the gallows,
 for instance---oh wait, that's not from the 70s, 
and this collection (listening companion to a museum exhibit) 
is very strict. Also very anglo (no Freddie Fender
no Johnny Rodriguez, no Clarence Gatemouth Brown), 
and omg male. Do have Emmylou and Marcia Ball a little bit
---no Lou Ann Barton, no Angela Strehli, certainly not 
Joplin doing "Me and Bobby McGee," or anything else
 (oh well estates can be a problem with anthologizing, and hers 
is well-known).
But when I listened again, I realized just how much
 good stuff, some of it def. Underexposed,
 did make the cut. Which can make a great basis for your own mix.
Full Tracklist The permanent exhibit
Johnny Cash trib is new music for his bare lyrics, poems,
 some letters, I think. Only rambles too far
 when the music does (Costello and 
his chamber followers, mainly). Otherwise, 
as always hoped for w these things, even most of the artists
whom I don't usually care about actually rise to the occasion.

Going to check out one of Edd Hurt's 2018 Reissues picks,
 Lefty Frizzell's Signed, Sealed and Delivered
I got sidetracked by his The Complete Columbia Sessions
5 volumes, from the early 50s to mid-70s 
(he finally went to another label, and then he died, in '75). 

Spotify has the whole thing in one mass; Amazon has
 each track as a trickle-download, but not as a 
one-gulp box
----they do carry the volumes 
as a series of CDs, and the ones from his last
 decade would prob be worth getting. 
Early stuff (from country's mostly pre-LP era, 
sales-wise) is more diffuse, trying different angles, 
touching all the bases, but then suddenly he's a 
culturally deprived creative spirit,  swirling over and
 into the gaps (depths!) between dull lines, which mean a 
Lot  to him, and hopefully's amazing, but after a 
couple more tracks, the swirling seems like another gimmick. 
Then he drops that approach, starts flirtatiously playing
 with his accent (aw-shucks-ma'am in-joke), 
also can play it for novelty hook, calling for
 "ciger-RATS and coffee," which keep him goin.'
Settles into a confidential tone: your buddy, somewhat
 like a pre-Don Williams, with more of a range of themes,
 such as pride goeth before a fall, but that's just how it went, 
ain't sorry, or all that sorry.
Getting a little louder and more full-throated 
(pre- and then para-Merle) as pride sometimes wins, 
at least for a while: plot-twists test and stretch the ties
 that bind, especially when he bests older, richer men
 (incl. his own father)who stand between him and 
(female) love objects. One is less a story than a posted 
"My Baby is a Tramp," 
but she had it rough growing up, he understands her, 
and (whatever else you do), you don't call her that
---the term is reserved for himself, who now sounds 
older, tougher, maybe richer, than usual.
In reviews archived on his site, Xgau raves about this guy
 on the way to awarding Rhino's 1991 The Best of and
 Look What Thoughts Will Do (Columbia/Legacy, 1997) 
his rare A Pluses
--I wouldn't go quite that far with the first 
(Spotify doesn't have it as one album, but can be easily
 made into a playlist), haven't heard all of the second
 collection yet, though it does have some killers, 
they both do, and I still gotta get to Edd's pick, 
an original release, I think.
Bluesy, flexible inflections show up early and later:
 starting in the mid-40s, he def sounds like a link between 
Jimmie Rodgers and the other guys I mentioned, though 
also some lounge.
 Look What Thoughts Will Do surely proves the point
 of its title track, in most of the selections, and all 
of the sequencing. The penny drops, the ripples spread,
 so look at that, and just keep looking, just keep riding
--- even "Don't think it Ain't Been Fun Dear ('Cuz It Ain't")
 finds its own kind of fun as it keeps telling her what not
 to think, lest things get too real, making this 
zigzag twilight time more of a problem than he wants to think. 
Not too much time for mellerdramer in these situations, 
where Western Swingers are passing it to
 honky tonk stalwarts, elbowing more room on the dance floor
 and adjacent spaces, just enough to maintain some cool 
next to that upstart rock 'n' roll stuff (while taking notes).
The pinched, typically up front "You Want Everything But Me" 
is somewhat undercut by the equally typical 
"I Want To Be With You Always," one of his periodic check-ins 
for fidelity's sake--but this time he gets to the thought that 
if the love nest ever falls, it'll have to be your fault, 
because his love is so very very very true.
His Jimmie Rodgers side comes back through the
 modernistical brooding of "Travelling Blues," as he at least
 mentally moves from the club to the barcar, going to
 find his baby and bring her back: 
it's just long and even-tempered enough
---he's got a satisfied mind, and a purpose-driven life 
(no matter how things actually turn out; he leaves the
parenthetical driving to us).
---so that it seems like the train time
 is becoming quite comfortable, as the slightly ominous
 tone fits the good ol' drone.
This impression seems seen and raised by the turn-around 
of "My Rough and Rowdy Ways," which sounds neither 
rough nor rowdy, just kinda bluesy-cowboy-dreamy, 
as he wants to get aboard and get away from her
--no, that's too harsh: he's going from the previous track's 
(starting with) train-as-means-to-an-end, to something
 more like endless, as all expectations just kinda disappear
 into the freedom/habit principle and circuit: his ways, amen.
Which is not to say he can't wake up "Sick Sober and Sorry,"
 but he jumps up too, bopping along like he does in 
"Just Can't Live That Fast (Any More)", and 
"I'm An Old Old Man (Tryin' To Live While I Can),"
 and a bunch of brisk shuffles in the fourth quarter
--even gets a sax in "You're Humbuggin' Me" 
and maybe a grunty fuzz bass during the chorus of
 "She's Gone Gone Gone."
I especially appreciate the fact that his tedious version of
"Long Black Veil" (which gives me time to think that 
"I spoke not a word though it meant my life,
 I'd been in the arms of my best friend's wife" is not 
very believable, unless maybe the wife is a man and
 it's 1938 or 1838 in Alabama) is here overcome by
 "Forbidden Lovers," who happily cruise over to 
"the lonely side of town, where the music is soft and sweet"
 and nobody knows them, unless it's other people 
who shouldn't be there, and he might well have a sequel 
about that somewhere, out of Lefty field.
Title track of Signed, Sealed And Delivered is about sending
 his heart to his loved one and is just long, wistfully grave, 
and maybe wrong enough to evoke the Velvet Underground’s
 “The Gift,” in which John Cale mails his whole self, with
 pre-FedEx/UPS results
----but that could have turned out better 
than with a heart, yuck. 
The miscreant factor and other special delivery also applies 
to “Nobody Knows But Me,” where a Jimmie Rodgers type 
is back in the cell that once scared him, also recalls
 that nobody cares, but they’ve  sometimes asked, being nosy
 and/or checking a box, why he did it, and hell if he knew
---now the old hand’s proud to say he can do his time, 
and when they ask him again, see triumphant  title of 
this ‘un, sealed fate signed with a flourish, like the 
John Hancock on the tail of his shirt (or shirts, if the
 powers made a temporary substitution). 
Beats a shrug for sure.

Another Edd pick, Jeannie Seely’s The Seely Style
is also awesome but a bit too signed sealed stylized, 
at least for this set of tracks, most of which could register 
as bullseye gravitas in other contexts, but altogether they 
can seem too slow and heavy, pulling even a rock-ready 
wail into relics of ritual---yet/and as a fan of Nico and 
Joy Division, I’m about to go listen again, esp. to 
“I Fall To Pieces” and “Don’t Touch Me” (and right off,
 she’s keeping a  close watch on “what you’re turning to,
 and turning into.”) 
Perils and pearls of  a serious adult woman urban country
 album made and released in 1966!

...just trekked through
 Ashley McBryde's Girl Going Nowhere which 
of course is meant to be
 and moderately is an inneresting title for what I assume is meant to be
 a breakthrough album: starts right off not with a band but 
the foreboding, low-key title track, which is a twist on the
 obligatory-for-country-girls salute to the hometown. 
As performed, it's not an ironic twist: she sounds sincerely
 and humbly grateful for their telling her she's bound to fail, for 
giving her that much more incentive to make it.
 Quietly sincere, determined, and spooked.
It's a combo which works great on the better tracks, 
like "American Scandal," where she turns the volume 
up to make clear this is non-ironic desperation
---she really really needs it to be like Kennedy and Monroe
But the next one, "Southern Babylon," seems, even
 before the unnecessary mention of "Hotel California," 
like an alibi for of the fodder it's sandwiched between, the 
Springsteeny "Radioland" and
and MellenPettyCarnes tap-tap-tap of "The Jacket, "
 both fortified with country-Americana namechecking o course.
There's a sincere etc. tribute to another kind of family,
 in a dive bar, but with unremarkable mumblecore imagery
 she might as well be nodding to the sunday school teachers
 and grannies as happens in the usual obligatory-for-girls etc. 
"Next Door To Leroy" at least singles out and details
 one of the fellow misfits who provided reinforcement early on:
 says something, pretty succinctly, about high school years, 
when you have to recover from the results of peer pressure 
by going over to the junkie's house. Good loud guitar too 
(several of these, but she needs more, at least as distraction).
She sincerely can't live without her boring messy boyfriend, Andy.
"El Dorado" more intended radio fodder yadda yadda, but the
 countryiest (sincere note to a wholesome type)
, "Ef yew git tahhred of bein' happy, give me a cawl,"
 may also be the most rocking, in a whiskey-cymbal-splashing,
-better-voice kind of way, and is certainly one of the
 best at least. 
Ditto the finale, "Home Sweet Highway," 
sincerely horny ghosty eyes on the prize and distinctive 
musical twinges amidst the twangs.
"starts right off not with a *bang*," I meant, though
 might not be a band either on that opener: 
as I said, it's a very quiet track.

So title track of Dierks Bentley’s The Mountain 
is an ominous victory song, and Bentley stays 
out of the way as the guitar chords and the words
 skulk their way to the peak, still not satisfied 
(he turns up the volume on choruses to confirm this). 
Could be a Neil Young song, about "turning that hill to
Otherwise, these sundown views of younger wilder times 
and the road ahead drone on and on through greeting card
 ‘til finally Brandi Carlile pipes up on Track 12, 
"Travelin' Light" (def not the JJ Cale song of that title:
 this 'un's about forgiving yourself and embracing 
yourself and floating along), and takes it away from him 
without even seeming to try---once again, he stays out 
of the way, without even seeming to try either
---so many songs, so little voice; it's the longest 44-minute album
---ever. Okay, a few others kinda work, 
and might grow on me, but would require more
 listening than seems likely.

Fans of the new Dierks album might find similar appeal 
on his guest Brandi Carlile's own By The Way, I Frogive* Youlooking out over the blue Rockies at her life's landmarks,
 incl. relationships w deep and still-rumbling layers,
 provisional peace, possible wisdom
---Dierks sounds happier, but she's still strong, thriving on 
the drama under her boots and out there---a few tracks
 I haven't wrapped my head around yet, but overall good stuff.
*er Forgive You

really a missed opportunity for a kermit led county classic. 
i have a one year old so please don't roll your eyes at me
Heez, Monday, July 9, 2018 8:04 PM (one year ago) 
Wish she'd thought of that!
dow, Monday, July 9, 2018 8:41 PM (one year ago)
Yeah you gotta be ready for her theatricality, and
 I kept thinking she's performed with this guy? Even before
 I got this update:
Elton John calls Brandi Carlile’s By The Way, I Forgive You
 his “Album of the Year” on his Rocket Hour radio show 
on Beats 1 
on Apple Music. Listen to the full interview, which aired 
this past weekend(if you've got Apple Music or 
want to go to the iTunes Store yadda-yadda, anyway I can 
imagine her singing some of his early country-ish [& other] 
songs better than he did, no prob)

Hot Buttered Rum have a somewhat misleading name,
 like they're some kind of lumberjack party band-
--true, they keep it moving---their mandolinist is 
also/maybe mainly their drummer---but one of the perkiest
 numbers on the well-titled Lonesome Panoramic is 'bout how
 when that lonesome feeling comes around, you better let it in,
 it might just tell you something; one of the catchiest
 (even some scat-singing at the end) is 'bout how "You don't
 know what lonesome is, 'til lonesome's gone."
 Some of it seems a bit murky so far, but also
 a spooky, almost country-noir ballad
 'bout how there's shit you can't take back: 
a father's looking for his derelict son, his runaway 
 while sort of acknowledging that he's not perfect.
Rec to fans of Western Centuries, the pensive-yet-limber
 side of Hunter-Garcia, and mercifully 
post-Marmaduke New Riders.

Brothers Osborne, Port Saint Joe
Oho, I like Brother John's vintage-ish etc.-as- 
contemporary country instrumental settings very well
 and right away; famous geezers who know they need
 freshening up should borry him 
(and producer Jay Joyce's board team).
 Brother TJ's vocals tend to point up the limitations
 of the songs, but it all comes together sometimes, 
often enough that I'll keep listening for sure, 
whole or most of it may grow on me.

Chicago Farmer's Quartet Past Midnight drops a 
few decent tracks--though most of those don't urge
 me past a couple listens
---but overall this is exactly the kind of
cute corny cliche, self-promoting folkie sensitivity
 training he used to scorn. Of course he's an expert 
 even has a routine 'bout how you too can learn the 
faux-Arlo delivery, but all too often the songs seem 
anti-climatic after the set-ups, in that common folkie
 club way.
But sometimes he does manage an effective 
anecdotal-musical merger, my fave being the one 
about his neighbors, offspring of the Chicago 
powerhouse-to-rustbelt working class, who start their
 own bakery, everything looking up 'til the '08 evaporation
 of credit etc., to which their response incl. working 
even harder, becoming closet methhheads. This
 comes to light after their children turn up at school 
"blind, and the other one couldn't see"
---a uniquely tasteless joek/journalistic detail from the 
Farmer, maybe an actual anti-tearjerking move, even
 though this is one of his least tearjerking songs.
 Anyway, it's not  too big a jolt, maybe because it's 
something a neighbor might gossip, at least to himself.
Rec. to fans of early Prine, Silverstein, Steve Goodman,
 his buddy Arlo, but only if you're fairly desperate for 
more of that good old Old Town 
plaid yarntunespinning Chicago stuff.

I have to say the new Colter Wall is a huge improvement 
on the last album
resident hack (Simon H.), Monday, 17 December 2018 19:04

Wall's voice makes my throat feel good. He should do a 
tea commercial, wrapped in snowy blankets or his bog coat.
 I like that he seems to travel or sit around in various centuries, 
Just gives me that impression sometimes, just passing through.
I don't know what the title of John Prine's 
The Tree of Forgiveness means, but
 "I live deep down inside my head" and yet still goes out on a 
Limb and gets some air once in a while, checks the groundhogs 
and such, a sociable-enough hermit, not trying to avoid his 
own shadow, or the lonely friends of science. Prine country.
dow, Tuesday, 18 December 2018 06:22 
His *big* coat, not bog coat, jeez. Although could be both.
dow, Tuesday, 18 December 2018 06:24 

Ruby Boots' Don't Talk About It runs the two-lane from 
Brenda Lee to Nikki Lane (was thinking that before 
I read that the actual NL co-writes and sings on some 
of this), 
also Nashville to British Invasionville and back, 
country enough (via twangy vocal linchpin, for inst) 
that nearly a cappella gospelly waltz "I Am A Woman"
 sounds at home between garage stompers 
"Somebody Else" 
and "Infatuation" (former also feat. good fuzztone
---Texas Gentlemen can go wherever she leads). 
Finale "Don't Give A Damn" starts with acoustic 
strum and shaker, goes to full kit and randomized 
electric howls, keeping that Margo Price Mellencamp,
 born-in-a-barn catchiness (yes, it's on Bloodshot).
 Not original atall, but/and so far mostly good.
Although a few tracks do have me looking at my watch
---one prob w hot chesnut associations is when you 
might start to recall that old tyme radio edits weren't
 much over 3'30", at most, while most of these go on
 up  to a minute longer.

Got memo @4:14 CST, no idear how long offer is good for:
Announcing a free download of Garth Brooks' latest album,
 Triple Live.

Fresh off this week's appearance on America's Got Talent,
 Garth Brooks has announced his newest album, 
Triple Live, is available to download on Amazon, 
free for a limited time! This new collection of music
 features 26 tracks taken from live performances 
throughout his recent world tour.
Click below for your free download of Triple Live, 
as well as two of his other blockbuster albums, 
The Chase and In Pieces. Amazon is what it is. 
Just now downloaded Triple Live( w/o Amazon
 Music app),
 and I'll do well to make it through all of that, 
so may not get the earlier ones.
dow, Thursday, September 20, 2018 4:45 PM 
What the heck, I got those too.
dow, Thursday, September 20, 2018 4:54 PM
Triple Live took some getting used to on the first set, 
with distracting sound quality and badly timed blurts,
 also massive audience chant-alongs, sometimes o
veremphasizing the more simplistic lyrics and 
less hooky tunes, which is most of 'em, at least as 
presented here (dude obv luvs pop-rock so wot's, uh, the deal)
 despite the okay band and occasional back-up vocalists
--the on-stage ones, that is
---but it gets better, and overall seems like at least a 
(shortish) LP's worth of striking songs and performances. 
He presents and testifies and is a quick change artist in 
the hot midst of the blistery mystery of life and love and fun 
and sorrow, hallelujah.
Will def have to check studio version of "In Another's Eyes," 
re intriguing lyrics partially blotted here 
( nevertheless, we get good duet w Trisha, whom I prev. considered
 the definition of boredom).
 Especially impressed by "Mom":child scared of being born, 
is reassured by God re soon will meet an Earthly guide
on the patch back to Himself: 
just barely time enough for that to seem a little spooky,
 and then look out for "Mama sure was a looker
...Daddy's in the pen," cheatin' and Maker-meetin'
 in between, wheee
---somewhere down the road, the responsible salaryman 
who knows he works so hard because he's controlled
 by somebody else, transmutes into your "Shameless"
 and triumphant madman, higher and higher on risk and 
This Billy Joel cover is the best of GB’s gut-swaying 
Elton John-like anthems, at least in this setting; 
others can seem redundant, over-explaining his principles
---"Whiskey to Wine" (it's not the same high") comes close to 
overexplaining, but it's a supple toon, another good duet 
with Trisha, as they settle for each other, but not really, 
so their secret or maybe post-counselling/too-amicably-separating
 selves sing to and with each other.
Then there's angry suicide as creative breakthrough in 
"The Beaches of Cheyenne," and then there's "The River,"
 "changing all the time," and then there's "The Fireman,"
 "makin' my rounds all over town, puttin' out old flames,"
 and then he gets progressive in a natural and chosen way
 on the finale,"We Shall Be Free."
(I was startled to see the video for this for the first time 
not so many years after its release: 
When Toby Keith’s star-spangled sneer was unfurled,
and so many other country superstars kept quiet about
So much.)
Between those and a few others, like 
"Friends in Low Places,"
 I now find myself seriously wondering 
if I will buy his ten-disc set, currently selling on a megasite
 for a pittance.
the *path* back to Himself (of course it is but a patchy
 Path, this life and world)
(See also Dreaming Out Loud: Garth Brooks, 
Wynonna Judd, Wade Hayes, And The Changing 
Face Of Nashville by Bruce Feiler, with the
 purple epic 90s Saga of Garth in counterpoint
 to the  precarious rise and laterals of Wade Hayes.)

wait ...
not sure about Most Pathetic since Rushton Kelly 
seems to be actively campaigning for that
dow, what do you mean by this?
alpine static, Saturday, 29 December 2018 07:24
xxxp Hi Alpine. What I mean is, on Dying Star, Ruston Kelly
an avowed fan of Cobain, profanes his memory with the
 abject, sniveling apologies for being such a bad, 
shitty no-good, black sheep, loser, fuck-up, hopeless,
 when will I ever learn, when will it all be over, 
little backwater fella, in track after track after track after track,
 all through the night. 
Inneresting that he's married to the
 increasingly positive Kacey Musgraves, who is perhaps 
overcompensating with the new album, where she's now
 moved beyond the previous set's bad greeting card verse,
 beyond bland, beyond anything 
(but a memory of dissolving vapor trails, mebbe). Kelly 
eventually bestirs himself into a few flickers of potentially
 enjoyable pop-country, but too late.
dow, Sunday, 30 December 2018 02:39 (
thanks dow. to each his own! i think the RK album is a 
wonderful collection of well-written, highly relatable and 
melodically inventive folk-pop songs about being 
(and wanting to stop being)
 a bad shitty no-good loser fuck up. if he'd trimmed it down 
from 14 tracks to, say, 11 or 12, it'd be Top 5 of 2018-worthy. 
as it is, it's more like Top 15ish.
alpine static, Sunday, 30 December 2018 07:39 

Musgraves has finally (started making CDs for CD Baby 
in middle school or something) reduced herself to a
 complete nonentity---but the melts-in-your-mind effect-noneffect 
seems meant as solace, and is perhaps taken that way,
 once daily or whatever, in this churning time.
Thanks for nailing what I can't like this record.
Your sweetie-pie-coo-coo I love ya (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn)
Wednesday, 6 February 2019 16:55 
You and I may have been the only ones who called her re the 
sub-standard greeting card verse of the previous offering. 
I dunno---I never got into Moby or New Pornographers either
 (even though one New P was Neko, whom I usually like).
dow, Wednesday, 6 February 2019 16:59

However the movie story goes, and I hope it's not 
this relaxed,
 Blaze Original Soundtrack (type it that way if you look up on
 Spotify, although looks like I should check out that guy's
 Blaze Soundtrack playlist) calmly presents the title character 
as a 
reflective fella, riding the bus and occasionally venturing 
the bar, sitting by the road, frequently dubious of his choices 
and acutely aware of the gaps in himself and in crowds, 
distrusting the flow and churn and everything else except
 his baby. Sounds like she (played by Alia Shawkat, who brings 
more definition to the better Ben-Dickey-as-Blaze ruminations)
 might be what keeps him so sweet (though the real-life Blaze
 was brave and honorable enough to die defending a friend, 
trying to defuse a confrontation).
The tumult, incl. the actual lifestyle miles, does come outside
 in the closer, "Drunken Angel," written about him by 
Lucinda Williams, sung here by Alynda Segarra, with none 
of the Snorah Jones tendencies of her
 Hurray For The Riff Raff breakthrough (guess I better check the follow-up,
 which is said 
to be more dynamic, and the previous set had its keepers). 
She's also good w lead actor-singer Ben Dickey on 
Blind Willie McTell'
"Pearly Gates, " another wake-up change of pace, 
which gets jokey at one point, without disturbing the overall
 sense of aspiration and conviction
---"When this short life is over," he means to keep fingerpicking 
through yon portals. Which goes right with the brief glimpse
 of Robin and Little John bopping through Sherwood Forest, 
not knowing or caring about bad water or the bad Sheriff, in
Roger Miller's brief "Od-De-Lally" 
(so I guess I better check out that 2018 Roger Miller tribute collection)*.
The shadings in Foley's better originals aren't eclipsed by 
the covers, even of Townes Van Zandt's stark "Marie," 
a tale of what might have happened to Foley and his Sylvia
did happen to many others, on the street and under the bridge,
 with just a few wronger turns. Though it's performed here
by Charlie Sexton, mainly known as one of Dylan's best guitarists,
and his sincere, sometimessoft vocal begs comparisons with TVZ's unrelenting clarity, 
though they're equally succinct.
Starts and stays snoozy for a while, but seems like 8 out of 12 
good 'uns (though maybe I'm too just dried up for 
"Blaze & Sylvia's Lullaby," another duet with Alia Shawkat
and it's the lone Dickey original, no snoozier than the
 preceding Foley originals--what the hell, I admire it from afar
. Cute couple.)
Grab a coffee and turn it up, or just listen near bedtime.
Snooze alarm: on Roy Schneider & Kim Mayfield's 
Reckless Saints, guest Gurf Morlix sings x picks a very 
strong version of Blaze's ever-timely "Election Day."

*Yep, the aforementioned "Od-De-Lally" sounds good on the Roger Miller tribute 
too: Eric Church jumps through
the hoops of careless and outrageous fortune, 
incl. good luck and the Sheriff's traps  
(bass shadows keep coming up) on King of the Road
37 tracks and I gotta listen some more, but pretty sure
 Ringo's version of "Hey Would You Hold It Down?" is one for
 my Beatles and Ex-Beatles tape, and overall sense that 
the Bird of Paradise has long since flown up yore nose 
and is still flying and bouncing off the dusty walls of all that 
room up there, which (so far) gets me through some of the 
more woeful ballads, cos whut does he know other than 
happy and sad and life and death and bippity dang boppa
We'll see. Cool cracks and zesty-old-guesty remakes 
(not rowdy enough to alarm the caretakers) from 
the man himself. Also: John Goodman.

Also enjoying Roland White and Friends' (incl. youngbloodz,
members of Grascals etc.)
A Tribute To The Kentucky Colonels, which reworks several
 tracks from the KCs' 1964 (before Clarence joined the Byrds)
 Appalachian Swing. If that title appeals to you, 
you'll probably dig this set.

Also getting into Mary Gauthier's Rifles and Rosary Beads
written with soldiers
--had assumed that these last were
 all vets of Afghanistan and Iraq, but no reason they couldn't
 have been in Vietnam or elsewhere. Incisive details of 
experience, Over There and Homefront, keep it grounded, 
not too anthemy or sloggy, past maybe the opener.
 MG's got the wiry arrangements, spare and flexible, 
and enough voice for whatever occasion, without 
over- or underdoing it (I'm always startled by the various
 ways she repeats the title phrase of the always startled 
"It's Your Love." "Morphine 1, 2" gradually turns into 
something like a country Lou Reed song, but it fits. 
"I Got Your 6" is a sly little possum, "Iraq" is a furtive 
message with no time for all the details, but the singer, 
male or female, is "a mechanic...I try to fit in...what I 
don't give they take..." Others are def guys or gals, 
in particular circumstances, incl. marital and professional.
Lots more here, incl, co-writes w SWS co-founder Darden 
Smith and many others, ongoing:

The spareness of Eric Church’s Desperate Man  seems relaxed, 
confident, resourceful, thoughtful
--even "Monsters,"which he has learned are not under the bed, 
so he's grateful that he also learned to pray, sounds like a 
humble sop, but is not overundersold, and mention of letting 
his little son sleep next to him to keep the monsters at bay, 
does not incl. teaching said son to pray; he seems to be 
letting him learn at his own pace, as Daddy apparently 
did (no memories of Churches at church, choirs fading in 
and out etc. etc.).
The writing and arrangements are usually taut, resourceful, 
even daring at times, like he's really learned from hippie radio, 
and not the one in the disappointing track of that title. 
Most startling moment is when he suddenly starts wobbling
 that note in "Higher Wire," fixing to take off
---also like the quavery verse voice on "Solid," setting up 
the chorus. and the way the back-to-basics "Jukebox and 
A Bar" sets up the attempt to chill of "Drowning Man, "
 in which thinking about politics has driven him to drink
 once more; weed's not gonna cut it tonight or today.
Because--monsters really aren't under the bed!
 Well not all of 'em.

Just now discovered that Willie Nelson's taping an upcoming 
full-hour Austin City Limits; this livestream started at 8 central.
I came in on "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die," then a
 Djangoesque instrumental, just now a Tom T. song
 I'm unfamiliar with: everything quite perky, on point and flexible
 so far, more about the picking than the singing in that regard, 
but voice is still good enough, in the Willie way.
Soon after: 
Well that was a trip. Hope the whole thing will be posted on 
ACL's YouTube channel, before editing for broadcast, 
which may not for inst. incl. Bobbie's coda for the finale,
"Will The Cicle Be Unbroken">"I'll Fly Away."

Sweet... I saw Willie and his family show at Red Rocks, around
 7 or 8 years ago; I was blown away by his bursts of 
atonal guitar playing... it was like some “harmelodic,” 
avant-grade shit. 
Saw the show again here in L.A., a year or so later. Would love 
to see him play on TV.
my guitar friend wants his money (morrisp), Tuesday, 
20 November 2018 04:04 
Yeah, the sounds he got from Trigger
--- long the oldest, ugliest acoustic guitar I've ever seen
---were truly karma chameleon, and always fit
---even writhing through "Angel Flying Too Close To The
 Ground," without breaking vibe or meter, like one of those 
Old Testament, Milton or Blake angels, not from a greeting card 
(that I'd be likely to get, anyway).
Can prob find more TV appearances on the Tube
---he and his family and friends band were all of the very
 first Austin City Limits ep, in '74, been on there several 
times since (collaboration with Asleep At The Wheel etc),
 and prob some on the Farm Aid channel. 
His CMT Crossroads episode with Sheryl Crow was ace, 
especially his electric guitar all over "Every Day Is 
A Winding Road."

Related Comments:

When I worked in a Deep South CD store in the mid-90s to early-00s, Elvis 
sold almost as well as the Dead
and his gospel outsold all his other stuff. Now some public radio stations
 are re-broadcasting/-streaming "He Touched Me: Elvis' Gospel Music, " w cogent comments from colleagues, intros by 
Laura Cantrell. Sounds great, wish there were more live 
(do hear some live w Jordanaires x Sweet Inspirations,
 for some audiences adjusting or not to integration)
(most of the material is from the SI's side of the tracks).
More info on the ever-handy (though Not Secure) 
Elvis Information Network:
The whole show may be posted somewhere.

Richard Thompson is an ever-riveting, never-showboating
 featured team player ("Sloth" gets really dead-to-zombstring 
strange: is it about wages of sloth, of a sloth? Both?) on 
Fairport Convention's roiling, autumn-leaves-shanking 
What We Did On Our Saturday, documenting a sometimes 
alarmingly energetic hive of all surviving Conventioneers 
who came to play
--- which is most, incl. the founding line-up entire, I think
---their 50th Anniversary Concert 
(taking things a little easier on Disc 2, but understandably
 so, given the earlier waves).
Which reminds me---this just in (the email):

(RT’s 13 Rivers is awesome jawbone-of-an-assrattling album
---can’t shake it shake it anyway
---obsessively shadowmining in a Countryoid- Related way, 
except musically maybe too rocking
----maybe I should extend the taxonomy to Related to Related? 
That way madness lies[this  round-up is way overdue as is]).

Aye, the fearless geezers of 50th Anniversary Fairport 
tromp ever forward into the highways and byways and
 lanes and thickets and buildings and moats along the
 deep ledge of their catalogue
---emerging at times into bare wide spaces with no visible obstruction,
 though some may be felt (just go around ‘em
 when it’s time). Now that’s what I call Related to country, 
in terms of old scores, the occupations and preoccupations 
that keep some folks young and old
----not forever, nobody lives or otherwise hangs around
 that long,  but can seem like it.
Also in this (‘18) 50th year of FC, and released right before 
said  Anniversary concert
 (just headlining at the Cropedy festival, as usual),
 we got Fairport and Friends’ (Fotheringay, Sandy Denny solo)
 A Tree With Roots, gathering their Dylan covers, suitably
 knotty and smooth enough when called for, even adding 
a few kinks
----kicking off with their translation of “If You Gotta Go,
 Go Now”  into French language and cajun (?) music,
 the latter pretty unusual on non-cajun radio in the 1960s, 
but a UK hit nonetheless, their biggest ever, I think. They 
(orig line-up, so sung by Judy Dyble, even covered “Jack O’ Diamonds." From the folk
song of that title, Bob Dylan took "Jack o' Diamonds is a hard
card to play, " for a long poem 
on the back or sleeve of Another Side of Bob Dylan, but 
apparently never recorded any musical application; 
Ben Carruthers did, and gave D. a co-write credit.
Good discussion here, with links to both Fairport tracks and
“Percy’s Song” is a rousing anti-anthem, like “Blowin in the Wind”:
 both sway and march all ye right up through the brink
 of unknowing. Percy’s friend bravely goes to confront the 
mean ol’ judge who slams the book on P.: he’s the
reckless driver, killed people, case closed. Narrator goes 
right into the  Headline News True Crime trope
---how can this be, he was always such a nice boy
--- refrain:”Turn, turn to the wind and the rain”
---so familiar, this mystery, so Related, so off-the-record relatable,
but somehow never in a country (or other) song?

Willie Nelson's My Way---true-to-you-in-my-fashion Sinatra trib
---has late night jazz appeal alright. Bluesy version of
"What is This Thing Called Love?" (is there really a question mark
in there?) keeps prowling my head, with Norah Jones slipping along
there too. She's proved an effective duet partner-around-the-edges
durinduring her times in the Willie Zone---on several albums now---where she's never Snora anymore,
"just" cool.

Speaking yet again of fearless geezers and Dylan thickets, 
 Bettye LaVette’s all-D. Things Have Changed follows a 
chopped-and-chanelled, rolling thunder  “The Times They
Are A-Changin’” and step-by-step deep focus
 “Mama You Been On My Mind” with even riskier internalizing
-externalizing (as written, no words 
tweaked like the first two excursions on the versions
 mentioned) late 80s ballads of very personal verbosity
 and relationships---no prob for she whom I once called
 a Method singer (also check her Scene of the Crime,
 backed by the Drive-By Truckers, just for one other
 example of this approach; even works w Taupin-John!)

Speaking one last tyme of Dylan and Fairport and maybe even  
fearless geezers, have you heard that YouTube live 
“Masters of War,” appropriately set to the  primeval prow of
 trad-arr. “Nottamun Town,” I mean the concert cover by 
Charles Lloyd and the Marvels with Lucinda Williams
 It is still a dirge 
with tremors, all along the tension, though neither this 
nor her featured appearances with Lloyd’s crew on their 
Vanished Gardens are guitar-army barnburners and sweat lodge
 visions a la her own Ghosts of Highway 20 (which also feat.
2 Marvels, the sometimes fried ice creamer Bill Frisell and
pedal steely Greg Leisz),
---but when she wants to rise up from her solitary kitchen 
chair once again, and go out walking along “Ventura” 
(originally from her candle-and-car-passing 
World Without Tears), this time the groovy agile considerate 
jazzers are with her, all the way up to Big Sur if she wants,
 or anywhere the night air feels mellow and electric and right.
 Also up for a tromp through the dark pact of America, 
the New World deal not too old to still be a-sealing
the ceiling to zero as the heat rises, or even if it didn’t.

Those two Bermuda Triangle(Brittany Howard, Becca Mancari, 
Jesse Lafser)tracks on Spotify 
instantly toke a hold of me, and haven't let go: 
deepnrich, up front: "You love Suzanne, I love you, 
where is she? Go and get her." Such a contrast with
 the aforementioned Becca Mancari set, at least the sound, 
which is thinned and chill, latte, with most of the vocals 
double-tracked; they and the good session band are
Going for the the xx effect?
Seems like the writing is good too, but it's also filtered. 
"Kitchen Dancing" is "dry"/up front, and the best track here;
 subsequent acoustic single version of "Golden" is better 
(would like to hear 
Willie cover this: about a lover who won't go 'way after leaving: 
"You keep going golden"--was already thinking of when the 
sun goes level, won't get out of your face, before becoming
 aware of the words, especially that hook-line at the beginning
 of the chorus, so I guess in that case the filter is a good test, 
but still prefer the acoustic, with the increased/undiminished
 vocal presence).
Really looking fwd to more Bermuda Triangle.
Ah meant "took a hold," but "toke" yes too
Later: Oh, I heard another album by a member of Bermuda 
Triangle: Jesse Lafser's 2015 Raised On The Plains.
 It does sport a "Don't Fence Me In" urgency, but then she
 turns out to be more like a historical cowboy, covering 
a lot of ground but still making the rounds, having similar 
experiences despite the momentary excitement and current
 details: lots of romantic frustration, and though the astute
 Dylan and Richard Thompson ballad studies provide springy,
 birch-tree support and projection for self-expression,
 she gets into an overly complicated presentation of an easily
 recognizable point
---then again, sometimes you gotta load 
all the way up with whatever you can find to blast your 
way through said frustration.
But so far seems like it usually works out, like with
 which is also one of those BT tracks on Spotify: 
she leaves the TV on all night long, blasting updates 
on the forest fire, the better to torture herself via associations
 with that flamin' outrider, and “now the sun's on the bed 
where you lay your head.”
I mean she sounds like she's learned some things about 
songwriting from Dylan and Thompson, not singing
 (well maybe what not to do; works for them fairly often, 
but no need for her to follow suit.)
Bermuda Triangle at Newport, still streaming here:

Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Downey to Lubbock :
 More blues than I expected, more than I've heard from 
Jimmie D for sure, but his voice and feel fit just fine
---"I'm an old Flatlander from the high plains,"
 he sez in title-track opener, which is redundant
--who would listen to this album without knowing the
 bio basics? Pretty sure most of their fans are old fans
--but still it's a good capsule description of his sound 
and sensibility. Dig the way they find musical payoffs in 
the steady march through "You don't believe I love you look
 at the fool I been you don't believe I love you look at the 
hole I'm in" and keep going "back to my same ol' used to be,
" and now sounding pretty proud of himself/sassy with the wry
--it is a jug band blues after all: "Stealin' Stealin" by 
Memphis Jug Band's Will Shade.
Even more oops factor in the even ever-more-timely 
"Get Together" (candidly precarious hopefulness of the verses
 coming through more clearly to me than on the Youngbloods'
 version, so chorus more urgent and troubled too), and 
"Deportee--Plane Wreck At Los Gatos." 
Best Dave solos prob on "KC Moan," about which 
he quotes Jimmie Dale,"There is a time for more Blue Cheer 
and less Blue Cheer, and this is a time for more." 
Also good outward bound picking on "Walk On." 
Only a couple of geezer-snoozers, I think.
Whole thing's here:

Cover Me: The Eddie Hinton Songbook is an ace Ace import, 
easily findable for a nice price, on at least one ecommerce 
behemoth: Dusty Springfield, Bobby Womack, Aretha Franklin, 
Box Tops, Candi Staton, Sweet Inspirations, Tony Joe White, 
Cher, Lulu (both of whom do well (a duet might be even better),
 and a bunch of people I never heard of: 
one guy just walked in to sell a song, and the studio cats
 were like omg you gotta cut something, and he did and it's 
good but he sailed on somewhere
---others are still in the biz, but not as singers,and then 
there's an early protege of Bacharach and David
 (he doesn't sound like Dionne Warwick, maybe a little smooth 
but r&b for sure, and I want to hear him on
 some B&D songs.
Hinton's offerings, fairly frequently written w Fritts
can seem a bit generic at times, but they're usually good 
Vehicles for better singers, and though his own voice 
(heard here on demo
 of "It's All Wrong But It's Alright"), is thin and he tends to
 strain it, otherwise canny phrasing provides a handy template
 for stronger vox, as compiler Tony Rounce points out in 
typically astute liner notes. Don't quite hear Left Banke in the
 one he does, but do hear it (as a joke on sensitive Southern
 Gothic x LB-type sentiment?) in some of 
"Poor Mary Has Drowned,"
 as lead sung by Brick Wall's Eddie Marshall, future daddy
 of Chan.
(Speaking of Hinton demos, the well-produced series 
of same on UK's Zane label is also worth checking out.)
I don't like all of these---Willy Deville has always seemed 
tiresome, Don Varner's track is a meh Northern Soul fave---but overall, oh mah soul.
track list:
1. Breakfast in Bed - Dusty Springfield
2. Down in Texas - Oscar Toney JR
3. Cover Me - Jackie Moore
4. A Little Bit Salty - Bobby Womack
5. Sure As Sin - Candi Staton
6. 300 Pounds of Hongry - Tony Joe White
7. Masquerade - Don Varner
8. Always David - the Sweet Inspirations
9. Poor Mary Has Drowned - Brick Wall
10. It's All Wrong But It's Alright 
- Eddie Hinton
11. Help Me Make It (Power of a Woman's Love)
 - Mink Deville
12. Save the Children - Cher
13. Every Natural Thing - Aretha Franklin
14. If I Had Let You in - the Box Tops
15. Satisfaction Guaranteed - Judy White
16. Standing on the Mountain - Percy Sledge
17. I Got the Feeling - the Amazing Rhythm Aces
18. Home for the Summer - the Hour Glass 
Greg and Duane Allman
19. Lay It on Me - Gwen McCrae
20. People in Love - Lou Johnson
21. Where You Come from - Bonnie Bramlett
22. Seventeen Year Old Girl 
- Mickey Buckins & the New Breed
23. Love Waits for No Man - Al Johnson
24. Where's Eddie - Lulu

Jess Sah Bi & Peter One, 
Our Garden Needs Its Flowers
Got into it right away. Incl. lots of good info & descriptions:
 ... fusion of traditional Ivorian village songs and American and
 English country and folk-rock music. Jess and Peter sang in 
French and English, delivering beautifully harmonized 
meditations on social injustice and inequality, calls for 
unity across the African continent, an end to apartheid in 
South Africa and the odd song for the ladies, all set against 
lush guitar riffs, rustic harmonica and rollicking feel-good rhythms. 
Although I'd say "sophisticated," not "lush," the way they take what 
they need from what they like: 
mostly early 70s sounds, from 80s perspective
---title track suggests Don Williams guiding Crosby Stills & 
Nash in a non-snoozy, shuffley direction
---"rollicking" is an overstatement, but on a foggy morning this
 set cleared my head right up.

"Lake of Fire," written by Christy Hays, was one of the few good
 tracks on last year's Bruce Robison & The Back Porch Band
 (although they spelled her name wrong). 2018's
 River Swimmer presents her as a true lady of the canyon, with 
a big chunk of aural atmosphere down and up there, incl.
 good drummer and/or programming digging in
---touchstone might be Emmylou's 
Wrecking Ball, and the more recent Lucinda Williams albums, 
though without vocal slurs or drunken angels or
 ghosts on the highway.
 Plenty of shadows and light, re sense of time
 (of day and season and sometimes lifespan) 
and place (usually out west, but sometimes just east of the 
Mississippi, and then there's that
 "Town Under The Ground," where I wanna go).
Some substantial songwriting for sure, restless and grounded, 
but a couple mostly going for Americana airplay, and the
 sonics can be too rich for me to digest the whole set in a single
 listening. That's okay though. It's all here, 
along with some earlier releases, which I haven't checked yet:
 Listening to the Hays again: no prob this time w the sound 
design, which I'm absorbing and being absorbed by/accepting
 as such, with conversational appeal in the foreground, and 
lots of good lines in the verses, but somehow they don't pull
 me in as consistently as the choruses
---would rather have it that way than the reverse, if I had to 
choose,so I just did
---but some of that effect comes from the way 
lines in the verses get me thinking, so that I may miss the 
next thing she says, as can happen in good non-musical conversations
---but some other times my mind just wanders away completely, 
for the next line or two, and I blame her more than me. 
Maybe unfairly, and good album overall, but for now I'm going
 onto something else (the latest Loretta Lynn, most likely, or 
Garcia's Before The Dead box).
One more bit about Hays and then I'll shut up: 
For once, the traveler sounds positively proud of herself for 
reaching a destination. Then gradually not so much, and then, 
"I hate it when you worry about me!" Settles back down, before 
sliding into the chorus and title, "Don't let me diiie/In California."
 A call, not a cry, and commanding, robust (might not know 
anything was wrong if she didn't imply it, or if you didn't know
 her too well, as apparently somebody dies). The call keeps rising
 and falling, staying in place, being answered by a nagging little 
guitar figure, suggesting a shriveled McGuinn.

Cowboy’s Scott Boyer RIP: link to P. Hood's comments &
others', also incl. worthy YouTube links:

S/D Southern Rock


Also got me to check fine reissue:
A couple of Cowboy albums I didn't know about, the s/t and 
an expanded Cowboy: Boyer & Talton, were recently reissued, 
haven't heard 'em yet---also, here's Tommy Talton talking about the last 
show with Gregg, in 2016, 
and a good conversation they had, along with author's mentions of
 the Gregg albums T played on, 
ditto ABB LPs

 (bottom of this page has a link to review of Talton's latest solo alb):
four months pass...
Finally got to it--said this just now on Twitter:
Cowboy, Boyer & Talton (Expanded Edition)
"It's a long short highway," amen. Bramblett, Leavell, Jaimoe, Sandlin, 
Hornsby, Bill Stewart, David Brown, Toy Caldwell, Dru Lombar, 
Charlie Hayward, Giggling Heap, Willietes, 2 bonus workouts from 
The Gregg Allman Tour*. Earned stereo.
 (Bliss-triggering: got me falling off the CD-buying wagon bigger time
 than  quite a few years).
(*2019 update: Gregg Allman
Laid Back Deluxe Edition and Gregg Allman Tour - August 30
Allman’s masterful debut solo album, Laid Back, will be remastered and released as an expanded two-disc deluxe edition and reissue on 180-gram vinyl. The deluxe edition features more than two dozen rarities including unreleased demos, outtakes, alternative and new mixes.
Best Cowboy line-up backing him on the Tour LP. hope there's more involving them on this.)
Anybody heard the 31rst of February album, the trio's 1968 s/t? 
Long ago heard the demo released in '72 as  
Duane & Greg Allman, backed by the trio, 
mainly remember Greg/Gregg bellerin' "Morning Dew."

Y'all, what is a good 2018 album of Mexican or Mexican-American
 or other Latin country etc. music? Any style or subgenre, long as 
it's got something in that makes me say "Country."
Only one I've heard this year is the poetically precise, lithe life study
Alma P’urhépecha, by Los Centzontles and this guy:
Atilano López Patricio is a Native P’urhépecha 
musician, songwriter,
 artisan and painter from Jaracuaro, Michoacán, México.
 In his youth, 
Don Atilano worked in the fields along with his 
brothers and father Gervacio López Isidro, and played music in 
the afternoons. He first came to California in 1999 
at which time he began sharing his traditions with
 members of Los Cenzontles.
Original and translated lyrics on LC site
 Music's on Spotify:  8 songs in 28 minutes, but not at all skimpy.

Notebook scribbles/ subjects objects for further study maybe…

Asleep At The Wheel, New Routes: think new bit might
 be the ballads: reflective and poised though one of the later ones better on chorus, 
also “BIg River” starts  well, uptempo, gets kinda humdrum?
(no Nancy Gimble, Elizabeth McQ. apparently, 
though Katie Shore good for a while, Avetts add some variety, 
maybe need more guests)

Linda Thompson, My Mother Doesn't Know I'm on the Stage: 
Thompson and cohorts---incl. son Teddy, Martha Wainwright,
Mama Mia! star Colin Firth---present a live sampler from the 
prime time of British Music Hall, the wry, graceful
 turns-with-elbows of which do seem Related---
 maybe especially to Asheville-before-Nashville
---but the up-front, sometimes brisk declarations
 and serenades can veer
way into what
early Brit rock crit Nik Cohn long ago referred to
 as "the elaborate sentimentality" of country music.
Subject for further study indeed.

Balsamic Range, Mountain Overture (incl some older recordings, 
or new performances of “greatest hits” etc?) Sometimes over-
 “Song For Matthew” worth mentioning though, at least as
cogently written 
by John Denver---what else did he write?

Campdogzz Maybe too Neily-doomy solemn/repetitous of effects in the long run, 
but when bass,keys, fe vox (rough yet flexible at right moments) 
crosshatch esp in earlier tracks--thinking of Stone The Crows,
esp Ontinous Performance---also Damnations TX , but the 
Neil bit cmon not like there’s a lack of his similars
---only they got faster sometimes (think some earlier do 
have some momentum?)

Carolina Chimes: instrumental originals, some distinctive, 
others not, but all spirited and dig bass player when not to be 
so strict etc

girlfriend fleeing a guy “knows next time he’ll do what 
he’s said he will”, 
“sometimes I see her face”: for series of sessions 
just now released 
as Gene Clark Sings For You, he  hired good musos,
 but yeesh intensely broody verbose sub-D ritualistic “folk”
/folk-rock. No, a few might work in another context, 
one w out so 
much autodepresso drone of self-absorption and terrible lines 
(people lookin for a place called Somewhere, fake tributes to a
 strong woman when he’s really just into his own depression-
rejection etc) But “Yesterday Am I Right," with some lyric edits, 
and maybe a few tracks toward the end, incl. levels of proficiency going to
 wasted and kinda making the bad stuff worse by carrying it 
along pushing in some cases. 
Liz Cooper & The Stampede, Window Flowers : 
psychpop country?got her got own approach to intensity 
and it goes well as my 
soundtrack for watching Amazon customer video of splitting
 big wood w maul and wedge, takes him about three pounds 
but then it happens wow and she they there as halves fall 
away like melon, brain) Edd really likes her live
Sounding much better on bandcamp although opening tracks 
risky w putting her into middle distance but gives her something
 to push through and she does

Ryan Culwell disappointing so far Mellenangst’s great uncle though 
with some weirdo musical outbursts like M might get to one
 Day But reverses usual tendency by starting strong, getting 
predictable incl. Effects of cosmic polish and midtempo and
 underwhelming weed solos
---but I said this about his 2015 album:
Ryan Culwell's Flatlands immediately takes the rein with nervous energy willed into focus (minus strain or excess melodrama)on tensile Texastential tunes. He's young, he's spooked, but he's determined to "find my mountains in the flatlands, hallelujah!"--followed immediately by "I Think I'll Be Their God." Where he sounds like he's acquainted with the megaphone tape legacy of the Rev. Jim Jones. Yes, he's wary of hope, even self-mocking at times---"Ah am just a young man, with piss down in mah bones"---but he's tasted more than the grape Koolaid, tracks different flavors of hope and hopelessness. I'm also influenced by first hearing this while first reading Winesburg, Ohio: both consider the flavors of twisted roots, with spare but never bare presentation (12 songs, 40 minutes here, and, as in the book, weaker or slighter tracks are carried by the overall momentum). Especially like when sustain and a little bit of distortion appear on the horizon behind battered acoustic rhythm, and there's the occasional desert siren (of the female persuasion).
Flatlands can be recommended to selective fans of Townes Van Zandt, esp. "Red River" ("She's cleaning the red dirt off the life he give her...he ain't my uncle no more") and "Horses" ("Sometimes tough ain't enough/Bow down the head that Jesus raised"---addressed to a woman, not a horse, I think).
Jason Eady trying to be a hipper Don Williams
but arrangements haltered by inert vox most of the time,
 do like the one about giving a ride to a wife  in the crowd”, 
couple others maybe possibly
(Fave Eady still “Barabbas,” POV of unexpectedly released
On his 2017 s/t

Chad Elliott  sad hopeful brink ballads can work, jazziness 
usually not 

Kinky Friedman first album of all originals in 35 years see 
notes in notebook
---firms up toward the end, but Less Than Half Good? 
Whole thing about finding his way but mostly pretty maudlin

Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail Lewis or vice-versa worn out retro generica or just 
undistinguished most of the time, good music on closer, 
voices in good shape
But he was good in '16:
For the most part, I'm really enjoying Robbie Fulks' Upland Stories, especially the way he can shift from credibly translucent-oblique-opaque inner monologue, also something flatter, like an inner take-it-or-leave-it testimony, warning and/or epitaph, to something up front and nuanced. For the latter, "Needed" is sweet, fair-minded, bravely self-revealing straight talk from a youngish Dad to his late-teen son, inevitably a little bit of a guilt trip too, cos hey it's Dad. Could well imagine Tim McGraw or George Strait covering it, though would have to be just for wanting to; they'd probably hear this original version as definitive.
He can be funny too, finding new sprouts on the wooden sounds while picking retro with his widder aunt's stubborn (anti-Scruggs banjo) "new old man", and noting the latter's more practical-minded skillz; as for other aspects of his geriatric appeal, "Awww, I don't wanna think about that!" Later he does a loose-limbed, looser-livin' asshole dance to another inspired coffee breakdown----also a mellow acoustic-electric romantic ballad groove thing that comes off too James Taylor-y for me, and "Alabama At Night" seems way too wordy and awed-tourist-y to be the opener, especially, but most of this is pretty darn good.
I'm also wondering how (the heck) he fits in with the Mekons on their Jura....

Isbell Live dang, oh well listen to it good playing, singing maybe
 too strong or too loud for details of lyrics and vibe at times, ditto
 the latter re audience loudness but mainly an accurate if 
somewhat  redundant document of his strengths and 
weaknesses, wonder if Live From Alabama has more range 
Shires good on it. Band good too or rest of band, since she fits 
right in, and they good even when it’s maybe just the organ
 way behind, a glinting capillary, w Isbell voice and acoustic guitar
 up from
Think I've covered all of his, fave so far (all the way through) is debut:

Shooter Jennings some good tracks see elsewhere in here 
also comment on creative groove of “Invitation To The Blues” 
with Jessi on R. Miller tribute, really is a musician, creative 
and still fatalistic when he drops the outlaw mullet etc 
shtick also doesn’t rely too much on charm
Better days: Don't Put the "O" Back in Outlaw Shooter Jennings doesn't need it

Missy Lancaster Tim F thinks country pop of year, so far I 
think more like They Came To From Nashville: Belmont 
(pop educated more than schooled in Nashville, also prob 
recorded there, sounding Southern-ish) etc but some of it
 trendwise, overall not neurotic enough, not enough of the feel? 
Of country or countryoid Listen again (I like some of it in 
earnest persistent kinda bombastic way)
(too overtly plastic x earnest?) okay okay 
"Heatwave," maybe, "Never In Love" deeper or realer and lets up on the sell thump

Lucas, Austin (Edd wrote about this, produced by Albini, also a 
sep piece about new Watson Twins) so far initially good lines 
sacrificed to context of ultimately not very insightful, 
also heavy-handed  Southern Gothic fable 
of cracked American male psyche, 
90s-ish and more timely than evah! Redundantly so.

Lera (sp?) Lynn? Yeah yeah, new album starts good, then goes 
into Sade Del Ray attempts, snoozers, better when she picks up 
the tempo, esp w JD McPherson she’s yelling, good also w 
Shovels & Rope and a couple others, but ballads a drag
 even understimulates Crowell and Nicole Atkins, and she basically 
 not that interesting a vocal or writing presence, say About Half Good? 
Listen again tho and play loud all the way through

Loretta Lynn sweet, vibrant, still got the charisma, gliding 
fearlessly into place. Through characters' testimonials in many 
phases and stages.

NRBQ: s/t debut, their most countryoid that I’ve heard:
 big sky backyard, Louisville 60s view from the garage, home smells

Muldaurs reissues: wanted more of her on these, and initially put off
 by lack of duets, but Geoff grew on me, also the way he slipped
 “Prairie Lullaby” between her a cappella or solitary seeming, 
un-bomastic canyon hymns, to somewhat Blakean effect

Schneider & Mayfield, Reckless Saints (ugh title): 
“Poison Arrow, “ “Buddha Baby” hook emerges on chorus,
 but she usually pretty murmury,the one about helping 
each other after the storm, but o shit shaking head at whole 
 “Election Day” (Blaze cover w Morlix lead guitar and vox)
(mention that along w soundtrack, maybe others

Kelly Willis, Back Being Blue: some good ideas for songs, some satisfyingly
 worked out, re manipulation of lover and of self re love, 
self-mythologizing, but performances incl settings less so,
 show up any sparseness in writing, but mainly would like 
to hear covers of some
----but listen again (tho esp striking after Becky Warren, whose level 
of intensity and confident involvement in musing--rough-edged 
reveries, letters etc, a given. Listen louder all the way through 
Concision works sometime, keeps lassoing more detai,l nuance
 in “We’ll Do It For Love Next Time” “Don’t Step Away” Raitt Motown 
midtempo smart-stepping. Good but wish Willis would develop 
more of her own distinctive turn on the more complex states
 of mind, self-awareness and rationalization etc
I like her & hub better on duet albs: Our Year
Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison, Our Year: Was she this strong on her solo albums? Must check. Seems like she should always sing lead. On "Lonely For You," she even sounds like a (vocally, not emotionally) self-sustained Everly, no need for overdubs. He's crisp, but there's a subliminal ebb and flow on a couple tracks, like he's pausing the take, "Lemme come back to that line": the writer as vocal stylist, whoopee. Still, it mostly works out, especially when I play it louder, and the sequence of tracks is good, like even "Harper Valley PTA" takes on a claustrophobic quality here, as Willis relentlessly busts the endless, obsessive rounds of musical beds in this itchy niche, this teeming Valley. Fine finale, "This Will Be Our Year," doesn't seem ironic, though lyrics x context of sequence show they know they got a lot to hope for, def. incl. change, but they've sure worked for it, earned it. Good, but if you haven't heard them before, check 2013 Cheater's Game first.
(PS: Rolling Country 2014 response:
Re: Willis, I'd say she's even stronger on her solo albums (though I like both of the duets albums with Robison quite a bit, as well). Of her early 90s albums for MCA, her self-titled release was my favorite, though all three were solid. Since signing with independent labels, I'd say <i>What I Deserve</i> is her strongest album, but I really don't think she's ever released a bad album. She plays to more of an Americana audience, but I think her song choices and feistiness avoid a lot of the stuffier trappings of so many other acts in that corner of the genre... jon_oh, Wednesday, 24 December 2014 21:15 )
and this 2013 Right Hon Mention!:
Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison's Cheater's Game--Lots of catchy contemplation, and it just now held its own on Spotify, even with laptop headphones vs. a very proximate boombox blasting a cathedralful of Christmas music. Also sounded real good beyond that battle, when I listened to the whole thing again. Happy New Year yall.


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