Archive for the ‘2018 Releases’ Tag

Buck Owens- Country Singer’s Prayer review   Leave a comment

Buck

My review of Buck Owens’ unreleased (at the time) 1975 album Cowboy Singers’ Prayer is up over at Country Standard Time. It is worth a listen or two.

Advertisements

Trudy Lynn- Blues Keep Knockin’ review   Leave a comment

trudy-lynn-blues-keep-knockin-hi-res-coverTrudy Lynn Blues Keep Rockin’ Conner Ray Music www.TrudyLynn.com

In the last six months, an abundance of blues have been sent my way. Most of it has left me cold: with all due respect to the PR folks, labels, and musicians—I don’t need to hear any more guitar noodlers. Each and every one leaves me bored.

What doesn’t? Albums produced by singers like Trudy Lynn.

I have heard and written about some great blues singers this year: Suzie Vinnick, Rory Block, Joyann Parker, Samantha Martin, Sue Foley, Crystal Shawanda…and I am guessing you are seeing what they have in common: they groove, they get deep, and they sing with soul. Beautiful recordings all.

Add Houston legend Trudy Lynn’s latest to the list. A member of the Houston Music Hall of Fame, Trudy Lynn knows her stuff. There is no little bit of R&B in her music, and she twists her one-of-a-kind voice around each and every song included on Blues Keep Knockin’.

Covering a Hoyt Axton/Three Dog Night song is always a fine way to get my attention, and Trudy Lynn’s mid-set, organ-embellished rendition of “I’ve Never Been to Spain” did the trick. Sultry and intimate, without over-reaching, this version is one to remember. “Blues Ain’t Nothin” and “Blues Keep Knocking” are powerful showpieces for this veteran of the circuit who has been nominated for Living Blues awards.

I sure don’t want to get on the wrong side of a woman declaring her devotion, “It’s tit-for-tit, tat-for-tat: you kill by dog, I’ll kill your cat…” as she does on “It’s Alright,” a sharp piano-based song that is as scary as it is powerful. Steve Krase’s harmonica is prominently positioned on this number, as well as throughout the album. “When I Been Drinkin'” is a no-nonsense declaration of a woman’s needs, and Dan Carpenter’s sax is just the punctuation the song requires, while Trudy Lynn lays things plain within “I Sing the Blues.” “Pitiful” features some fiery guitar from Bob Lanza, but it doesn’t detract from Ms Trudy’s  soul-drenched performance.

The album closes with a guitar-rich interpretation of Etta James’ “Would It Make Any Difference to You,” which features Carolyn Wonderland laying out lively, nuanced notes.

Trudy Lynn has been making music for a long time, and Blues Keep Knockin’ is her thirteenth album. This is a damn fine blues record. Seek it out.

 

Posted 2018 September 16 by Donald Teplyske in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

Kathy Kallick Band- Horrible World review   Leave a comment

kallickKathy Kallick Band Horrible World Live Oak Records KathyKallick.com

I’ve been writing about Kathy Kallick almost as long as I’ve been writing about roots music.

With others, I produced a concert for the Kathy Kallick Band, have bought several CDs—and been afforded others— and spent time listening to her music at multiple festivals and various stages—I am positive both as a reformed Good Ol’ Persons (although I can locate no record of such) and as the KKB—while having a couple semi-private chats with her. She is undoubtedly one of my favourite bluegrass and Americana performers.

Kathy Kallick’s voice is always warm and inviting, even when singing songs with the coldest of themes: she knows her way around a murderin’ outlaw song as well as anyone, and yet can embrace the complexities of relationships and daily life with seeming ease. While she can and does perform in a range of situations, never is she so strong than when fronting a vibrant, driving bluegrass band, and over the past many years has been releasing complex and engaging albums with her band.

Warmer Shade of Blue reached a level few bands can ever achieve, and yet she built upon that with Between the Hollow & the High-Rise and FoxhoundsFoxhounds while never faltering. Her recording of a few years back with Laurie Lewis honouring Vern & Ray also deserves recognition.

Horrible World (countered both in song and on the back cover with “It’s A Beautiful World”) continues the Kathy Kallick Band’s streak of excellence. As always, her songs are deep and meaningful creations, ones that find a way to speak to innermost thoughts. She balances these heady moments with unconventional renditions of familiar songs, for example recreating “Cotton-Eyed Joe” as a pensive 3/4 time ballad, before shifting gears ala Monroe’s post-Presley “Blue Moon of Kentucky.”

Tom Bekeny (mandolin) has been part of the group since the start and Walkin’ In My Shoes, and is as central to the KKB sound as is its namesake. His interaction with bandmates during the extended instrumental break within the telling “Nothin’ So Bad (It Can’t Get Worse)” is notable. The lineup of the group remains consistent from Foxhounds: Annie Staninec (fiddle), Greg Booth (Dobro and banjo), and Cary Black (bass) along with Kallick (guitar) and Bekeny. As usual, everyone sings various bits and parts.

With a trio of instrumentals—one near-grass (“Cascade Blues”), one western swingin’ (“Boot Heel Drive”) and one bonafide ‘grass (Bekeny’s “Edale)”—and familiar songs including “My Honey Lou” and “Dark As The Night (Blue As The Day,)” which I swear I have heard Kallick sing previously, [ed.note: and I have, if not in concert at least on the live Good Ol’ Person’s release, Good ‘n’ Live; thanks Mr. Thompson] leading the way, Horrible World is a very accessible bluegrass release.  This interpretation of “Dark As The Night” is stellar, bluesy and pure yearnsome. “Pockets Full of Rain” is a hopeful (vaguely familiar sounding) new-folk song, and “Ride Away” is a spirited ‘bad guy’ tale, and Kallick goes hard—as she often does—to give voice to this spritely number. “Solid Gone” incorporates years of folk-country-and bluegrass tradition within its words and melody, and Staninec’s singing style is well-suited to this old-timey song.

The album closing “This Beautiful World,” a John Reischman-Kallick co-write is a gentle meditation for hope and faith, as is “The Sunday Road,” albeit with a bit more pep.

The Kathy Kallick Band is one of the strongest, most consistent and satisfying bluegrass bands going. That they never receive their due from the IBMA voting membership come awards time is a shame. An album like Horrible World could change that, should folks in positions of influence ever bleeding notice. But I’ve been saying similar for 15 years.

Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard- Sing Me Back Home: The DC Tapes, 1965-1969 review   Leave a comment

Hazel and Alice

Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard Sing Me Back Home: The DC Tapes, 1965-1969
Free Dirt Records

Rare, archival material from the most important female duo in bluegrass history will always be welcomed.

The contributions made by Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard have long been acknowledged by people who have chosen to delve into their music and the events surrounding their recording and performing careers, both individually within bluegrass and old-time music and as a pioneering duo. That it took the International Bluegrass Music Association until 2017—six years after Dickens’ passing—to welcome them into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame was nothing short of shameful.

Recorded rehearsal tapes captured between jobs and child-rearing responsibilities—and at times with children running about—illuminate the process the musical partners engaged in to develop their raw and unblemished interpretation of bluegrass. Considering the intent and circumstance of the recording, the fidelity of the nineteen included songs is surprisingly acute. Recorded contemporaneously and subsequently to their initial Folkways set, these songs and recordings provide a hint into the woodshedding the pair undertook while developing their identifiable sound.

Only “James Alley Blues” has previously been released by Hazel and Alice (on the second Rounder album), and the accompaniment on these songs is minimal. We are invited guests into intimate, unfettered, and still intense rehearsals; one can easily imagine sitting at a Formica table with a cup of black coffee while watching these proceedings. Gerrard’s autoharp can be heard, setting the pace for songs as diverse as Merle Haggard’s “Sing Me Back Home” and Felice and Boudleaux Bryant’s “Bye Bye Love.” While most of the instrumentation is guitar, banjo leads the way on the spirited “Let Me Fall” and “Bound to Ride.”

Hazel and Alice never had much time for trifflin’, and that is clearly communicated in “I’ll Wash Your Love From My Heart,” “Why Not Confess,” and “Will You Miss Me.” “Tell Me That You Love Me” and “Are You All Alone” finds them softening their stance, while “This Little Light of Mine,” “No Telephone In Heaven,” and “No One To Welcome Me Home” have Hazel and Alice exploring the folk and country songbooks. On “No One To Welcome Me Home,” their voices blend and blur, with Hazel cutting through in supporting harmony. Hard times—a frequent Hazel and Alice subject—are explored in a rough take of “In The Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad).” “Cannonball Blues” and “Seven Year Blues” are exceptional takes.

While definitely adding to the Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard canon, these rehearsal takes also reveal the development of the singers; several tracks begin almost hesitantly, their confidence developing over the course of two or three minutes. A very welcome addition to my collection.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald

 

 

 

Ashleigh Flynn & The Riveters- review   Leave a comment

Riveters_FINAL_Record_Art_7_3_18_for_EPK

Ashleigh Flynn & The Riveters Ashleigh Flynn & The Riveters
Home Perm Records www.AshleighFlynnAndTheRiveters.com

When writing about a CD, I dislike comparing voices and arrangements to those of others—while it provides context, it seems lazy. (Not that I won’t make those comparisons…it just really dislike doing it.) After all, how many folks can have the airy ethereal qualities of Emmylou Harris, the gritty troubadour authenticity of Steve Earle, and the hardcore poetic elegance of Townes Van Zandt?

Fortunately, in the advance material for Ashleigh Flynn & The Riveters debut album, their PR scribe drops references to The Rolling Stones, T. Rex, and T-Bone…Walker, I’m guessing. I’m taking that as permission to launch a few names of my own.

Ashleigh Flynn has been making music for quite awhile, although I’ve only previously encountered one of the Kentuckian’s albums, A Million Stars of 2013. That set was full-blown, swinging ‘radio show’ country, the kind of retro music that inhabits a fair-narrow path within the wider Americana fold. That album was further highlighted by “How The West Was Won,” a rockin’ Calamity Jane song I wrote about previously and which sounds like a precursor to what Flynn has elected to record with the up-tempo  Riveters.

Based in Oregon, Flynn has established a new outfit of musical partners. We should be far beyond comparing this roots rock extravaganza to the excitement felt upon hearing Beauty and the Beat almost forty (!!) years ago, but I am not. There aren’t too many exclusively female lineups within the roots world outside of bluegrass—Della Mae and Sister Sadie come to mind—and so by their very existence Ashleigh Flynn & The Riveters are noteworthy. In an entirely different way, they are as musically thrilling as the Go-Go’s.

Off the top, it is apparent Ashleigh Flynn is a terrific singer, reminding one of Zoe Muth. Supercharged Americana roots rock, Ashleigh Flynn & The Riveters pour fifty years of rock and roll nuggets into these ten easy to appreciate songs, placing wee aural Easter eggs—premeditated or not—of musical tribute throughout. “Shrouded Sun” could be an interpretation of a Bobbie Gentry b-side, and “Fly Away” a long-lost cut from Mother Earth.

Singing from a position of strength, but with a “cold black line running down the center of her heart,” Flynn isn’t necessarily giving up on love, but she may just be getting ready to swear off her current affection. No matter the subject matter, songs like “Cold Black Line” suggest that Flynn is in the driver’s seat.

Punctuated by hand claps and a soaring melody, Flynn and The Riveters explore Long Ryders jingle-jangle paisley-flavoured country-rock on “Too Close To The Sun,”  the album’s defining  song. In the time between Here and Then, Dale Ann Bradley reaching for her Bobby McGee comes to mind within “The Sound of Bells,” a strong yearnsome song.

And just to run all allusions to ground, I’m hearing Bad Company (think “Shooting Star” and “Burnin’ Sky”) during “One Moment,” featuring “shredderific” guitar licks from Nancy Duca, while there is more than a bit of “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” coursing through the assured declarative “You Will Remember.” “Big Hat, No Cattle” allows a fellow some deserved self-deprecation. The power battery of Julie Clausen (drums) and Carmen Paradise (bass) lay out assured grooves.

All of which accumulates into an amazingly creative and original juxtaposition of rock, country, vigour, and sass. Ashley Flynn & The Riveters make…wait for it…riveting roots rock!

 

Eliza Gilkyson- Secularia review   Leave a comment

Eliza

Eliza Gilkyson
Secularia
Red House Records

Eliza Gilkyson has been making incredible music since long before I bumped into her with the release of Lost and Found sixteen years ago. Like Mary Chapin Carpenter (without the long-ago popular acclaim), Shawn Colvin (without the hit, and who duets on the engaging “Conservation,” a song built upon a poem from Gilkyson’s grandmother), and John Gorka (without the beard), Gilkyson has woven in-and-out of what I believe is the keenly coined “spare urban folk approach,” or—less charitably, perhaps—coffeehouse folk.

Like her contemporaries, her name occasionally appears on Grammy nomination lists, but she remains unknown to all but those most engaged with folk and contemporary adult music. Secularia isn’t likely to make Gilkyson a household name, but it offers discriminating listeners fresh opportunity to appreciate her talents.

With songs like “Dreamtime” and “Lifeline” Gilkyson explores the spiritual—not religious— bonds that unite us as democratic, accepting inhabitants of a challenged society. Like most of her albums, excepting her most recent The Nocturne Diaries which was a bit more rambunctious, Secularia is an introspective and fairly quiet album, one which requires effort on the part of the listener to engage: the grooves aren’t necessarily gonna grab you and inspire shuffling around the kitchen. Rather, these 12 songs envelope and embrace the listener, sharing their secrets and charms with an intimate manner.

Within “Conservation,” Gilkyson and Colvin sing of the continuous cycles of Earth: “I have no god, no king or saviour; no world beyond the setting sun. I’ll give my thanks for one more day here, and go to ground when my time has come.” Utilizing close harmony, the pair create a nourishing song of faith and assurance. I trust that the Tosca String Quartet joins Gilkyson on the equally compelling “Reunion,” a song that soars with emotion. [My download copy did not have accompanying song notes.] The gloves come off on “In The Name Of The Lord”hypocrites, beware.

Fellow Texan-by-choice,  the late Jimmy LaFave joins Gilkyson on a fiddle-rich take of the gospel folk standard “Down By The Riverside,” and when his voice joins her on the refrain—man, I almost lost it. An addition to his significant legacy, certainly. “Instrument” is a challenging ode, a song of self-reflection, I believe.

Secularia is a musical postcard of joy, peace, and hope, one that embraces the positivity and community of Odetta, Pete Seeger, and Woody Guthrie. Beautiful. Simply beautiful.

For lonely fools who sing their best alone in the dark.

Recent reviews at CST- Junior Sisk, Larry Cordle, & Jim Lauderdale, incl. w. Roland White   Leave a comment

Jim Lauderdale- Time Flies http://www.countrystandardtime.com/d/cdreview.asp?xid=6762

Jim Lauderdale & Roland White- self-titled, from 1979 http://www.countrystandardtime.com/d/cdreview.asp?xid=6763

Larry Cordle- Tales From East Kentucky http://www.countrystandardtime.com/d/cdreview.asp?xid=6753

Junior Sisk- Brand New Shade of Blue http://www.countrystandardtime.com/d/cdreview.asp?xid=6747