It is always a good day when a new album from The SteelDrivers is released, and that day comes February 5, 2013. My review of Hammer Down has been posted to Country Standard Time. It is a pretty darned good album, every bit as good as the two which preceded it.
Archive for the ‘Country Standard Time’ Tag
My review of Radney Foster’s new album has been posted at http://www.countrystandardtime.com/d/cdreview.asp?xid=4928 I can’t actually find it on the website, so I was going to post it here…but then it came up when I did a Google search for the album cover art after reformating the review for inclusion at Fervor Coulee…oh, well.
Radney Foster Del Rio, TX Revisited: Unplugged and Lonesome Devil’s River
Radney Foster, who had his only two top ten hits as a performer with songs from his classic Del Rio, TX 1959, releases Del Rio, TX Revisited: Unplugged and Lonesome, significantly improving the 1992 Arista performances.
The sequencing has been minimally refigured- moving “Old Silver” up and “Went for A Ride” down in the lineup balances things nicely. “Louisiana Blue” benefits greatly from the sparse presentation- the lyrics possess greater resonance, and the new mood is tender. Listening to this new version of “Closing Time,” one realizes how over-produced the original sessions were: timely, but in hindsight a bit over-wrought.
“A Fine Line” is turned on its head, with the aggressive propulsion of drums and rock n roll arrogance replaced with awareness bred of maturity. The protagonist doesn’t come off any better than he did in the original, but that’s his own fault. With Jack Ingram singing backup, “Hammer and Nails” remains perfect.
Primary to the sessions are Martie Maguire (fiddle, vocals), Jon Randall Stewart (guitar, vocals), Glenn Fukunaga (doghouse bass), Michael Ramos (Wurlitzer, accordion), Matt Borer (percussion), and the original album’s producer, Steve Fishell (resonator guitars). While the choruses remain familiar, the tempos and textures are entirely new- and they work. Man, do they work! As anyone who enjoyed Foster & Lloyd’s It’s Already Tomorrow will attest, Foster’s voice remains identifiable and spot-on.
With the album re-imagined, I know I will return to this newly recorded set frequently. While nostalgia favors the Arista release, my ears prefer Del Rio, TX Revisited: Unplugged and Lonesome.
http://www.countrystandardtime.com/d/cdreview.asp?xid=4900 has my review of the latest gospel bluegrass release from DLQ.
As always, thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald
Over at Fervor Coulee Bluegrass, I’ve posted my 2003/2004 piece about the Doc Watson-David Holt album Legacy. I’m listening to it tonight and thinking of Doc. As I type, Doc is recollecting his early memories of his beloved Rosa Lee. It is a wonderful recording, and appropriate listening on this day. http://www.countrystandardtime.com/blog/FervorCouleeBluegrass/entry.asp?xid=889 will get you there- I retyped the piece this evening, fixing only typos and a couple awkward phrases.
My review of The Boxcars new album is up at http://www.countrystandardtime.com/d/cdreview.asp?xid=4885. Happy listening, and as always- thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald
If you know me, you know I love the music of James Reams and the Barnstormers. James recently called me and brought me up-to-date. I’ve posted a piece over at Fervor Coulee Bluegrass that attempts to summarize what has been occurring with James over the past year. He’s a good man- and I appreciate his friendship. http://www.countrystandardtime.com/blog/FervorCouleeBluegrass/entry.asp?xid=860 More info about James’ upcoming gigs is available at http://www.facebook.com/jamesreams.barnstormers
As always, thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald
The (brief) version of my review of Fred Eaglesmith’s new album 6 Volts has been posted at Country Standard Time. For those of you who are not familiar with Ontarian Fred Eaglesmith, it is high time you become so; in my opinion, no one- not Buddy Miller, not Jim Lauderdale, not Alejandro Escovedo- has produced as solid a string of roots music over the past twenty years. http://www.countrystandardtime.com/d/cdreview.asp?xid=4822 will get you to the review.
Question? Why do American editors/writers so often refer to Canada as if it is one big ol’ mass o’ land without differentiation between our various provinces and territories? A review of any group’s latest album would never be identified as being from an “America-based” band; the descriptor would be localized as Texas-, California-, or Arkansas-based. When I’m writing for a Canadian audience, I will always refer to the outfit’s state, never simply as “an American band.” But for articles published in American publications, Canadian bands, often have their province specific description- such as Fred as an “Ontarian,” that is a person from Ontario- revised to “Canadian.”
I ask all American-based editors to consider beginning to identify Canadian acts with reference to their province or territory of origin. It isn’t really that big of a deal- I think most Americans can understand that a “Saskatchewan-based” band is indeed Canadian. We can trust that, right? It won’t horribly confuse most American readers, will it?
And heck- if it really confuses someone, they can always Google Nova Scotian.
Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald
O, forgot- here is the ‘long’ version of my 6 Volts review:
Fred Eaglesmith 6 Volts A Major Label
From the opening notes of “Cemetery Road” it is obvious that the classic Fred Eaglesmith sound we fell for in the mid-90s is back. Absent this time out are the experimental revelations of recent albums, and as enjoyable and appreciated as those were it seems high time that the Fred of lonely gravel roads, lonelier women, frustrated Saturday evenings, roadside artistry and junkyard Americana paid a return visit.
In Ontarian Eaglesmith’s dark world, the “Dangerous” man, living on the corner of Stupidity and Recklessness has as much appeal as the broken hearted, drugged-out long hauler of “Trucker Speed.” Eaglesmith doesn’t attempt to provide answers; he is an observer, a writer of domestic history- through his acute writer’s eye, he captures the stories of the people we pass without notice.
Within his character studies, the details of Eaglesmith’s brilliance is revealed. Describing a multi-faceted breakdown within the title cut, Eaglesmith sings, “My clutches are slipping, the carbon gets in my throat. You get out on the passenger side, I swallow my pride. The radiators raging like a murderer, only God can bend tempered steel.” Is Eaglesmith describing the death of a relationship or a vehicle? Really, it doesn’t matter- those images work no matter the interpretation.
Eaglesmith’s characters are seldom obviously heroic; they are flawed, often lost. One example can be found within the wrong-eyed, farmer justice of “Katie,” in which a landowner holds out under pressure of residential expansion because he buried his unfaithful wife under the hickory tree…and there’s another grave down by the creek. A new classic is born, one waiting for a bluegrass interpretation from James King, James Reams, or Junior Sisk.
Elsewhere, Eaglesmith eviscerates those who ignored Johnny Cash prior to his Rick Rubin-driven comeback. Perhaps most poignant is “Stars” in which Eaglesmith reflects on his own legacy, the one in which “Willie played the mandolin, he jumped around the stage; we thought that it would never end.” Of course, everything fades and now Eaglesmith finds himself admitting, “My hands hurt from playing my guitar. Every night in all those bars, we played like we were stars.”
With a less elaborate sound than his previous Cha Cha Cha- mostly guitars and drums with pedal steel, banjo, and organ mixed in- Eaglesmith is more focused this time out but no less fierce in his determination to capture the sounds of the past within modern songs that will be as relevant in twenty years as they are today.
If Fred Eaglesmith lost you in recent years, it is time to get back on board. 6 Volts is a welcome return for Canada’s premier roots road warrior.
For my meta-analysis of year-end bluegrass lists, visit http://www.countrystandardtime.com/blog/FervorCouleeBluegrass/entry.asp?xid=849 The number one album of the year should be no surprise, but it isn’t the Larry Sparks album picture to the left.
Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald
As I explain in this post, http://www.countrystandardtime.com/blog/FervorCouleeBluegrass/entry.asp?xid=844, I have been suffering from a bluegrass writer’s block. Hopefully, it will now pass. I struggled with this piece and with my reaction to the Larry Cordle song that it is about, but felt I needed to write about it to be able to move on. “America, Where Have You Gone?” is a horrible song, filled with hate and disdain, that breeds intolerance. It is also part of an otherwise outstanding album. I only heard the song and album in late fall, so I realize my reaction isn’t very timely. And Yes, I do now realize I overuse the word ‘hate’. Had I taken another half-hour before posting, I may have realized that, but I didn’t. But the word, and its related ‘hateful’, work just fine for me in this instance. [My final edit. I hope.] Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee, and thanks for your patience as I work through the demon-piece this has become. Donald
My review of October 23′s Spinney Brothers concert is posted at http://www.countrystandardtime.com/blog/FervorCouleeBluegrass/entry.asp?xid=828\ A very good evening of bluegrass by my measure. Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald