Trigger – February 5, 2018 at 12:37PM
So what happened? It’s less likely that Justin Timberlake and Timbaland were lying, and more likely that the country record Justin Timberlake envisioned never got made. At some point in the process, Timberlake must have had a change of heart. The entire pursuit was scrapped for what became “Man of the Woods.”
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The bloodless, broken relationship depicted in the forlorn and decidedly rustic “A Bed This Cold,” off bluegrass and gospel darling Kristy Cox’s new album Ricochet, is almost certainly a lost cause. Her partnership with Grammy-winning producer/songwriter Jerry Salley, on the other hand, has a brighter future.
Their past recordings have been showered with critical praise, and Cox and Salley have struck gold again with Ricochet, where contemporary production burnishes warm, traditional instrumentation and lives in wedded bliss with graceful harmonies and engaging country-pop songcraft. If the heat has gone out in “A Bed This Cold” —an affecting, unflinching dissection of eroded intimacy wrapped in thin, tattered acoustic folk and pained vocals that practically shiver—the deliriously sunny and upbeat “South to North Carolina” offers a fun summer road trip. A whirling dervish of countrified strings and irresistible escapism, it is just as lively and infectious as the jumping title track.
Dancing with Cox’s honeyed crooning throughout the rest of Ricochet, a meticulously woven mix of soft-textured dobro, fiddle, mandolin and banjo make the bittersweet incandescence of “Right Where You Left It” swoon and smoothly guide her carefree gait and empowered defiance in “Just Me Leaving.” Known for her hopeful, angelic sweetness, Cox sings with a growing maturity and beguiling sophistication on Ricochet that’s more in tune with worldly realities. Although the lighthearted “Blame It on God” and a more somber “I Still Pray” let everyone know that Cox still looks to the heavens for inspiration and strength.
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driX – February 5, 2018 at 11:46AM
Those born under the year of the rabbit are said to be elegant, gentle, quiet and melancholic. Such descriptions perfectly suit Allison Pierce, who is starting out as solo artist after a long career working with her sister in The Pierces. Year of the Rabbit is rich blend of folk, country and indie influences which fits well into the blossoming Americana genre and on the strength of the songs it feels like she has finally found her true musical home.
The Pierces always walked the line between polished pop and indie credibility, which at times left them adrift of both worlds. There was a glossy glamour to her previous music which is absent on this solo record – here Allison is rooted in the earth and this feeling is aided by Ethan Johns…
…quietly lush production. Allison’s voice, allowed to stand front and centre for the first time, has a perfect tone for the style of the acoustic opening song Fool Him. This is the story of a complicated relationship where you don’t know who’s cheating on who – classic country in its themes as well as sound.
The video for Evidence has Allison walking down a street and through fields – looking happily free despite the devil who’s following her. There’s no malice in his presence – in fact she’s enjoying his company. The song is hugely catchy and you start to sing along instantly. Well the devil always had the best tunes, didn’t he?
Follow You Down is more folk influenced and can’t help sounding a little Celtic. On this song she sings of an unhealthy relationship where she has been happily seduced by someone, despite the hell that they may cause her.
Never Coming Back uses the upper reaches of her voice to beautiful effect. Here her lover has left her behind, without even a kiss goodbye. She’s looking back to this relationship fondly, despite being heartbroken. It’s fitting then that the next song Sea of Love is so joyful and celebratory. Despite her hardships and the distance between her and her beloved she still sings love is all we’ve got and all we’ll ever need.
Drink One For You again has her back heartbroken and now she’s in the bar drowning her sorrows. Where else can you go? Drinking for two, I’ll drink one for you. You can’t help but think she’s better off without this guy, even if she’s not brave enough to admit it yet. The theme may be old fashioned, but then again this is the reality of many women’s lives even if it’s quite far away from the feminist ideal.
To the Grave is very hippie 60s in its style, even if the lyrics feel a little macabre at first. Death will inevitably come. We’re all helpless to the song. Marching us all to our graves. She can’t escape this relationship, just like you can’t avoid death and taxes. There’s no doom in the sound, she’s happily entranced by this dark magic.
There’s a gospel feel to the a cappella It Is Well With My Soul, echoing some of the religious themes subtly woven in this album. The closing song Peace Like a River considers the importance of forgiveness, despite everything she only wishes the best for the wandering souls who have left her behind.
The rabbit in China is seen as a symbol of hope, and you feel this optimistic spirit throughout the music. Year of the Rabbit is an album of natural beauty which is definitely worth following.
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My spouse had cancer 14 years ago. She’s fully recovered. I’m still not sure I am. When I think back over the complex set of interests and experiences that drew me to create this blog, it’s hard to dismiss this particular brush with mortality from the group. The vulnerability introduced by this traumatic period took me from one kind of blissful ignorance into an unwelcome and surprisingly thorny awareness. I’m still untangling it.
The experience had, among other effects, the propensity to turn many later moments of solitary parenting into reminders that this is what my life would have been like if she hadn’t made it. Despite the many things to celebrate and be thankful for about her healing and recovery, part of my mind inevitably drifted to the “what ifs” and the disaster that felt all too narrowly averted. I probably had an over-cultivated sense of tragedy to begin with. This episode made it all the more difficult to dig out of it.
Not long after I saw this clip, GQ published an “Epic Conversation” between Isbell and author George Saunders. Isbell discusses in that conversation how his writing sometimes overwhelms him. Following the song all the way through to where it needs to go can lead to some tough places. He explains that he couldn’t get through a first, private performance of “If We Were Vampires” without breaking down. I had to take a break from the GQ clip to hear why.
“If We Were Vampires” just won a Grammy for Best American Roots Song for Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. It is certainly now one of the less obscure songs we’ve explored here. As Isbell acknowledges in the Saunders interview, the title is misleading. What sounds like an imaginative flight of young adult fiction is a devastatingly serious reflection on love and death.
Isbell’s songs are generally pretty accessible to play–not a lot of fancy chords or convoluted lyrics. “The art lies in hiding the art,” says Horace. I’ve added a few Isbell songs to my regular “playing in” repertoire. When Isbell talked about not being able to get through it, I heard what he was saying. When I first attempted to sing it myself, I understood. I couldn’t get through it, either.
“If We Were Vampires” is, in our parlance, a “Conversation with Death.” It was a conversation that was too difficult for me to have. It was not only my death that the song contemplated and conversed with, but another’s death as well. I’m challenged to identify another song that unfolds that vulnerability of “wearing your heart outside your body” more effectively.
I still can’t imagine how Isbell and his wife, Amanda Shires, could get through this performance of the song on Jimmy Kimmel.
desolationangel – February 4, 2018 at 09:45PM
Desolation Angel Radio hit the air on Sunday night and it sounded like this:
I Need Never Get Old – Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
Midnight Train to Memphis – Chris Stapleton & Sturgill Simpson
Just My Imagination – The Rolling Stones
I Just Want To Make Love To You – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Let It Rock – Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
The Open Road – Jimmy LaFave
John The Revelator – Larkin Poe
The Mother – Brandi Carlisle
Baby Got Gone – Kenny Wayne Shepard
Black Coffee – Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa
Halfway Home – Jon Langford & Four Lost Souls
Pay Gap – Margo Price
Lost in America – Edwin McCain
The Perilous Night – Drive-By Truckers
All Along The Watchtower – Neil Young & Patti Smith
I’ve Got To Use My Imagination – Joan Osborne
Everybody’s Coming To My House – David Byrne
Find Yourself – Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real
Tramp – Buddy Guy
Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright – Susan Tedeschi
Instant Karma – John Lennon & The Plastic Ono Band
What Else Would You Have Me Be? – Lucero
You Worry Me – Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
One Way Out – Larkin Poe
Respect Commander – Jack White
Edge of Darkness – Greta Van Fleet
Free – Bonnie Bishop
Right Place, Wrong Time – Dr. John
Hard To Handle – Tony Joe White
Don’t Do It – The Band
Midnight In Harlem – Tedeschi Trucks Band
As always, thanks for being some of the best listeners, fans and audience in the world
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Americas Back 40 – February 4, 2018 at 04:07PM
The hicks from coast to coast. Hosted by Mary Tilson.
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Jeff – February 4, 2018 at 03:20PM
Episode #727 Today we play Namedropper, where each and every song is either about another song or songwriter, or mentions one or more of ’em! See if you can keep score at home and pick out all of the mentions, … Continue reading →