Archive for the ‘Junior Sisk’ Tag

Mac Wiseman & Various Artists- I Sang the Song review   Leave a comment

Mac Wiseman

Mac Wiseman I Sang The Song Mountain Fever Records

With all due respect to the folks who have released excellent bluegrass and country albums this year, and those who will undoubtedly do so in the coming months, we have our 2017 Americana/Roots album of the year.

An incredible undertaking by Peter Cooper and Thomm Jutz, the most important element of the thirteen songs comprising I Sang the Song: Life of The Voice With A Heart is the source material, Mac Wiseman himself. Nearing 92, Wiseman was born in 1925 and recalls a time few of us can picture outside history books and re-runs of The Waltons. Wiseman is a man who knew A. P. Carter and has now had Sierra Hull share a song with him. Think about that for a half-a-moment.

“It ain’t bragging if you’ve done it,” asserts John Prine gently within the title track, revealing for the unaware that Wiseman performed alongside the acknowledged masters of 20th century roots music. A member of both The Foggy Mountain Boys and The Blue Grass Boys, as well as a charting, featured performer in his own right, Wiseman is a founder of the Country Music Association, and inductee to both the International Bluegrass Music Association Hall of Fame and the Country Hall of Fame.  A label executive and producer—and one of the finest bluegrass gentlemen I’ve had the pleasure of encountering, however briefly— Wiseman was always far more than “just another young hillbilly.”

The majority of these songs are obviously bluegrass, a few clearly country, and others find that sweet, magical spot between the two. Cooper and Jutz had the inspiration and wisdom to listen to and converse with Wiseman, finding in his stories threads to embroider  the ten new songs created together to communicate a compelling narrative of anecdote.

Naturally, the singing is incredible throughout. Recent IBMA Male Vocalist of the Year Shawn Camp is given a pair of songs, as is Milan Miller who appears with Buddy Melton (another IBMA Male Vocalist of the Year) and Andrea Zonn. Junior Sisk, yet a third IBMA vocalist recipient, also has two lead appearances, “Crimora Church of the Brethren,” on which he is joined by Ronnie Bowman (yes, another IBMA Male Vocalist of the Year) and “The Wheat Crop”—with the ladies of The Isaacs—which laments the lot of the poor farmer. These performances are expectedly outstanding, and the history-rich lyrics and eternal melodies provide galvanizing framework for blessed voices.

Justin Moses (fiddle, banjo, and Dobro) and Hull (mandolin) work with Jutz (guitar) and Mark Fain (bass) to serve as the house band, uniting to create a consistent instrumental environment. Cooper and Jutz harmonize on several tracks, providing further uniformity.

Within a song, Wiseman (“The Guitar,” via Moses and Hull) takes us from receiving his first Sears Roebuck, ragtop box, to the eventual day he stopped “playing in G and singing in C” to nail “There’s An Empty Cot in the Bunkhouse  Tonight” for an audience of one. As the album unfolds, his experiences through to the hardships of the depression (“Barefoot ‘Til After the Frost”, “Three Cows and Two Horses”) are revealed in a natural, homespun manner capturing the vernacular of his rural upbringing down to cold “feet just as red as a gobbler’s snout.” In the universal and frustrating balance poverty, even when things improve for Wiseman’s family (“Manganese Mine,”) another discovers only hardship and tragedy.

“Simple Math,” one of two sang by Americana icon Jim Lauderdale, details further experiences from Wiseman’s youth following him into early gigs as a professional musician including his big break playing Molly O’Day sessions. Lauderdale, one of the most prolific and versatile vocalists working today, adroitly relates the simple truths of Wiseman’s observations.

As compelling as the connections to Wiseman’s life are across the album, the fact that each song stands independent released from context is indicative of their significance. The bluegrass chart hit “Going Back to Bristol,” sung by Camp, radiates universal appeal, whether you’ve ever been near the border community, cut a side with Flatt & Scruggs, been near a Studebaker, or not.

Alison Krauss joins Wiseman on the closing benediction “‘Tis Sweet to Be Remembered,” one of his earliest successes, for a performance joining generations in hopeful love of music and life. Wiseman drops in on a few of these numbers, providing a foundation for the lyrics and music, but also allowing those with the greatest of admiration to communicate his story through the voices of generations influenced by “The Voice With A Heart.”

For thirty-eight minutes, timeless memories are communicated. Through time, these performances will be shared to become part of our collective memory.

Visit https://mountainfever.com/ to order.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. @FervorCoulee

 

Fervor Coulee’s Favourite Roots Music Albums of 2013   2 comments

These types of lists are fairly self-indulgent, but most things we do seem to be. What the heck, then?

I am fairly confident in my choices this year- I created lists as the months passed, and have considered well in excess of a hundred albums for placement.  Here then are my favourite roots music albums of the year, accompanied by links to longer pieces I’ve written or, alternately when I didn’t write about a particular album, video.

[Update: #25 has been revised. Someone asked why so little mainstream country. Answer, I don’t listen to most of what would be considered modern country. I didn’t listen to the Brandy Clark album enough yet to place it in my Top 25, but I am really enjoying it. Whether that is mainstream…]

Favourite Album Covers-

skaggs1. Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby- Live Cluck Ol’ Hen

2. Guy Clark- My Favorite Picture of You– Great story behind this one. Well executed.

3. Noam Pikelny- Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe– some concert posters in the background may have pushed it over the top

4. Sturgill Simpson- High Top Mountain

5. Jack Lawrence- Arthel’s Guitar

Favorite Covers and Tribute Albums-

1.Don Rigsby- Doctor’s Orders: A Tribute to Ralph Stanley http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MNcu_x6_xY

2. Let Us In Americana- The Music of Paul McCartney

3. Unsung Hero : A Tribute to the Music of Ron Davies

4. Joe Mullins & Junior Sisk- Bluegrass Hall of Fame https://fervorcoulee.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/junior-sisk-joe-mullins-hall-of-fame-bluegrass-review/

5. Jack Lawrence- Arthel’s Guitar arthel

6. Martyn Joseph- Tires Rushing By in the Rain

7. Ben Sollee- The Hollow Sessions

8. You Don’t Know Me: Rediscovering Eddy Arnold

9. Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs- Under the Covers, Vol.3

Favourite Reissues and Archival Releases of the Year-

1. George Jones- The Complete United Artists Solo Singles george

2. Steve Forbert- Early On: The Best of the Mississippi Recordings and the Alive on Arrival/Jackrabbit Slim twofer, more concise and accessible than the previous Rolling Tide reissues

3. Townes Van Zandt- Sunshine Boy: The Unheard Sessions & Demos 1971-1972

4. Guy Clark- Dixie’s Bar & Bus Stop

5. The Bottle Rockets- The Bottle Rockets/The Brooklyn SideThe Bottle Rockets was and is one of the greatest Americana/alt.country albums ever recorded. The bonus tracks provide further context for the days that I wasn’t aware of until they were over. So enthralled with that album, I’ve allowed The Brooklyn Side to sit on the shelf untouched since the first and only time I played it all those years ago. My mistake. One I won’t allow to be repeated.

6. Billy Bragg Life’s A Riot with Spy vs Spy, 30th Anniversary Edition A most concise vision of the power of words and music; comes with a recent live encore of the 7-track e.p.

7. James Keelaghan History: The First 25 Years

Favourite Various Artists and Compilation Albums-

1.  Divided & United: The Songs of the Civil War imagesJ2S505VN

2. The Daughters of Bluegrass- Pickin’ Like A Girl https://fervorcoulee.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/daughters-of-bluegrass-pickin-like-a-girl-review/

3. God Didn’t Choose Sides

4. Classic Banjo from Smithsonian Folkways

5. Ghost Brothers of Darkland County

The following are my favourite stand-alone albums of 2013, often the albums I spent the most time with this past year (or, in the case of late year releases, the albums I feel I will end up spending the most time with):

1. Guy Clark- My Favorite Picture of You: The elder statesman does it again, producing another exceptional collection of songs, all but a cover of a Lyle Lovett song co-writes. Beautifully sung and played. Clark’s thirteenth album of new material, recorded at age 71, was head and shoulders this past year’s finest roots music album. If there is justice, and voters were actually listening, he’ll receive a Grammy in January. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIftiMZPVsE&list=RDntpyFfef-NA

2. John Reischman- Walk Along John https://fervorcoulee.wordpress.com/2013/07/27/john-reischman-walk-along-john-review/

3. J. R. Shore- State Theatre https://fervorcoulee.wordpress.com/2013/05/26/j-r-shore-state-theatre-review-the-polaris-music-prize/

4. Slaid Cleaves- Still Fighting the War: Gives ol’ Guy a run for his money. http://slaidcleaves.com/category/videos/

5. Mike Plume- Red and White Blues: Following up the very excellent 8:30 Newfoundland, Mike Plume returned not only with a most sincere Stompin’ Tom Connors tribute, but a set of songs- almost equal parts Maritime stomper and prairie balladry- that will soon stand with his best. http://mikeplume.com/steelbeltedwebsite/?page_id=19

6. Kimberley Rew- Healing Broadway: Pub roots. http://www.kimberleyrew.com/

7. Bruce Foxton- Back in the Room: If by roots you mean rock n roll. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syxMnWmrACM

8. The Gibson Brothers- They Call It Music https://fervorcoulee.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/the-gibson-brothers-they-call-it-music-review/

9. Chris Jones & The Night Drivers- Lonely Comes Easy https://fervorcoulee.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/chris-jones-the-night-drivers-lonely-comes-easy-review/

10. D. B. Rielly- Cross My Heart & Hope to Die https://fervorcoulee.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/d-b-rielly-cross-my-heart-hope-to-die-review/

11. Darden Smith- Love Calling https://fervorcoulee.wordpress.com/2013/07/30/darden-smith-love-calling-review/

12. Robbie Fulks- Gone Away Backward http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T00vjRCmf3g

13. The Del McCoury Band- The Streets of Baltimore: Experience counts for a whole lot. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_K_7pcdvck

14. Leeroy Stagger- Truth Be Sold  https://fervorcoulee.wordpress.com/2013/11/23/leeroy-stagger-truth-be-sold-review/ http://exclaim.ca/MusicVideo/ClickHear/leeroy_stagger-cities_on_fire_video

15. Alice Gerrard- Bittersweet https://fervorcoulee.wordpress.com/2013/08/10/alice-gerrard-bittersweet-review/

16. Noam Pikelny- Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iqys8Ez7Cno

17. Marshall Chapman- Blaze of Glory: Another great album of honest roots rock. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azPRk89nKaQ

18. Holly Williams- The Highway: Purchased after reading a couple reviews and having never heard her; glad I did. http://www.hollywilliams.com/portfolio-items/the-highway/

19. Sturgill Simpson- High Top Mountain: I’m glad all music isn’t this well-grounded in the country tradition. Makes it all the more special when you find it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNV16tz1NK0

20. John Paul Keith- Memphis 3 A.M.: A long-time favourite singer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWk5Yo9dIG0

21. James King- Three Chords and the Truth: Only bought this one before Christmas; need to listen more, but nothing to lead me to believe it isn’t going to stay with me for a long time. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWnKoIXS1KU

22. Kim Beggs- Beauty and Breaking: an exceptional collection of song that are already familiar. With more listens, I’m confident  it will become even more appreciated. http://www.kimbeggs.com/videoplay.html?video=http://www.youtube.com/v/mL45VqBql00

23. Jeff Black- B-Sidea and Confessions, Volume Two https://fervorcoulee.wordpress.com/2013/05/20/jeff-black-b-sides-and-confessions-volume-two-review/

24. Peter Rowan- The Old School https://fervorcoulee.wordpress.com/2013/05/20/peter-rowan-the-old-school-review/

25. Blue Mafia- My Cold Heart https://fervorcoulee.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/blue-mafia-my-cold-heart-review/ Was in consideration right up until I wrote the final draft. Another listen brought it forward, knocking Emmylou & Rodney out of the 25th spot. I’m sure they will recover.

Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell- Old Yellow Moon: Once upon a time, an album this stunning would be much higher that #25; that is one indication of how great the last year has been. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MNcu_x6_xY

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee so often in 2013, and I hope you will continue to find roots music opinion of interest in 2014 and beyond.

As always, Donald @FervorCoulee on the Twittering thing.

Fervor Coulee’s Ten Favourite Bluegrass Albums of 2011   Leave a comment

Donald Teplyske’s  favourite ten bluegrass albums of 2011:

Unlike last year, I feel that I did a very good job of ensuring that I heard the vast majority of excellent bluegrass that was released in 2011. I’m still not being serviced by one particular publicist and a couple of the major bluegrass labels, but others keep me ‘in the know’ and I’ve been able to continue purchasing other albums as I’ve become aware of them. Still, there are no doubt outstanding albums I’ve missed, albums that I may have enjoyed and favourably reviewed- Clay Hess, Darin & Brooke Aldridge, Grasstowne, and others. But I am more than aware that you can’t hear everything and so what follows is my Ten Favourite Bluegrass Albums of 2011 as submitted to the Lonesome Road Review survey. The paragraphs that follow have been largely recycled from my previously written reviews of the albums.

  1. Dale Ann Bradley- Somewhere South of Crazy (Compass) Critically lauded, praised and recognized by her industry and a fan favourite wherever she appears, Dale Ann Bradley’s third Compass album, and eighth overall, continues her measured but steady ascension to the highest levels of bluegrass performance and reverence. Again working with producer Alison Brown, Somewhere South of Crazy is Bradley’s most obviously contemporary bluegrass recording. Over recent albums, Bradley’s music has become increasingly polished while retaining the traditional spirit that has been her hallmark. It is this duality that makes Bradley’s music so appealing. As a recording artist should, Dale Ann Bradley improves her performance with each album. Fully realized and confident, Bradley exudes bluegrass and has never sounded better than on Somewhere South of Crazy.
  2. John Reischman & the Jaybirds- Vintage & Unique (Corvus) Over the past decade, John Reischman & the Jaybirds have become increasing popular in western North America. They are a great bluegrass band, always adding new material to their repertoire. Still, when exceptional mandolin players are mentioned, John Reischman’s name is often forgotten. On Vintage and Unique, the quintet takes Bill Monroe’s “The First Whippoorwill” for a spin and refreshes “Shady Grove” and “Last Chance.”  Trisha Gagnon and Jim Nunally’s voices- which always sound wonderful together- are especially beautiful throughout this recording. The band delivers new songs alongside their reimagining of classic and long-forgotten tunes. “The Cypress Hills” and “Consider Me Gone” are just waiting to be discovered, while “Cold Mountain (Cam Saan)” examines the Canadian railway experience of Chinese labourers. Every track, each break and harmonic moment are highlights within a flawless album.
  3. Larry Sparks- Almost Home (Rounder) An album of blue mountain memories: sons returning home, family history, faith, country roads, lonesomeness, country stars, Sunday dinners with nanner puddin’, and Momma’s apron strings. Larry Sparks’ voice continues to be pure and strong and the instrumental accompaniment he receives on this disc- largely from his touring band- is second to none. There remains a naturalness about the way Sparks approaches his music that is incredibly appealing.
  4. Alison Krauss & Union Station- Paper Airplane (Rounder)A delicate balance of the wistful-yearnsomeness that appeals to a wide-spectrum of the population and the more driving bluegrass sounds that link to the traditional foundation of the band’s history, Paper Airplane is three-quarters of an hour of pure aural pleasure. AKUS further refine the acoustiblue parameters that they have established and explored over the past fifteen years since So Long, So Wrong. The acoustic instrumentation is, as expected, exemplary in its tone and execution and while some of the songs- it could be argued- have a similar calm and sedate sound, there are enough lively moments to maintain momentum. Singularly, the songs are arrestingly enjoyable. Collectively, the cohesive flow of Paper Airplane amounts to one majestic performance.
  5. James Reams & The Barnstormers- One Foot in the Honky Tonk (Mountain Redbird Music) A wonderful bluegrass album that is just waiting for more of us to discover. As he has consistently done, within this new volume James Reams’ life experiences and those of his ancestors permeate the songs- whether he wrote them or not- not lending them authenticity but ensuring they are authentic. When listening to James Reams, one is on a bridge connecting the present to the past, where the waters below blend the relationships and lamentations of today with those who birthed and shaped them. There are few bluegrass singers who match the lithe and masculine timbre Reams brings to the songs he is called to perform. With One Foot in the Honky Tonk, James Reams further defines his bluegrass, blending the varied elements of the roadhouse with sounds from the hills of Kentucky and her neighbors. One foot in the honky-tonk indeed, but the rest of the Barnstormers’ bodies and their souls are deep in the bluegrass performing songs from the likes of Kevin Welch and Mike Henderson, Chris Gaffney, Fred Eaglesmith, Stonewall Jackson and Harlan Howard- folks who know honky tonks, to be sure- as well as original and traditional tunes.
  6. Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice- The Heart of a Song (Rebel Records)
  7. Blue Highway- Sounds of Home (Rounder)
  8. Laurie Lewis- Skippin’ and Flyin’ (Spruce and Maple Music)
  9. Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers- Rare Bird Alert (Rounder)
  10. Rebel Records digital reissue campaign featuring releases from Ralph Stanley, The McPeak Brothers, Bill Grant and Delia Bell, Dave Evans, and others.

Honourable mentions to: Charlie Sizemore Heartache Looking for a Home, Ralph Stanley A Mother’s Prayer, Barnstar! C’mon, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper Fired Up, Sarah Jarosz Follow Me Down, Dehlia Low Ravens & Crows, Paul Williams & the Victory Trio Satisfied and The Del McCoury Band Old Memories.

As always, thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald

Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice- The Heart of a Song   Leave a comment

My review of Junior Sisk’s outstanding new album has been posted to the Lonesome Road Review site:

Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice
The Heart of a Song
Rebel Records
4.5 stars (out of 5)

By Donald Teplyske

With all the recent viable and necessary discussions within the bluegrass world about big tents and “bridging the gap to the bigger acoustic world” (see Chris Pandolfi’s blog), a complementary perspective is welcome to those who feel that the word ‘bluegrass’ should actually mean something.

When an album kicks off with a fiddle and these words, a stylistic gauntlet is being dropped:

It’s hard to tell which way the music is going,

And sometimes I wonder how long it will last.

I still listen to all the words and the music,

But it ain’t nothing like it was in the past.

As Pandolfi so acutely described, citing Bill Evans, in his 2011 IBMA keynote address, the essence of bluegrass is more impactful than some real musical standard. Both that essence of bluegrass and bluegrass’s real musical standard are front and center on The Heart of a Song. 

As a respected bluegrass songwriter and through stints of various lengths with Wyatt Rice & Santa Cruz, the original Ramblers Choice, The Lost & Found, and Blue Ridge, Junior Sisk has established himself as one of bluegrass music’s most distinctive and vibrant vocalists.

Now on his third album as Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice, and with the core of the band stable, The Heart of a Song solidifies Sisk and his crew’s presence as a premier outfit within the very crowded bluegrass fold.

True, Sisk’s long-time singing partner Tim Massey—who plays bass on this album and who co-wrote the album’s popular opener (#1 on a recent Bluegrass Today airplay chart) “A Far Cry from Lester & Earl”—has recently amicably departed the group. What matters is the quality of this album and The Heart of a Song is as a strong an album from start to finish as one is likely to encounter in the autumn of 2011.

The instrumental virtuosity and singing traditions of bluegrass are well-represented on The Heart of a Song’s dozen tracks. As he should, Junior takes that majority of leads with Massey taking a pair and Jason Tomlin a single track. Junior Sisk always sounds wonderful and his ability to channel contemporary bluegrass through traditional sounds frequently seems magical.

In addition to “A Far Cry from Lester & Earl,” several tracks provide tremendous evidence of Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice’s mastery of the music. The Stanley sound is all over this album. “String, Eraser, and Blotter” comes from The Stanley Brothers while other songs, such as “The Devil’s Old White Well,” simply sound Stanley-made.

The bluegrass standard “Sea of Regret,” previously recorded by any number of artists including Joe Val, Ralph Stanley, Whitley & Skaggs, and Dave Evans, features the vocal trio of Massey’s lead, Sisk’s tenor and Tomlin’s high baritone and provides that modern bridge to the sounds of the past. Billy Hawks’ fiddle establishes the mournful mood of “Cold Heart” and Sisk’s lead takes the song straight into plum pitiful territory.

A new Dixie and Tom T. Hall song features Sisk singing alone. One of the more disturbing songs to come along recently, “The Grave Robber” is pure atmosphere. With only Sisk’s guitar providing instrumental texture, he calmly recites a story that is mountain dark. In Tom T.’s words, an epic tale.

“The Sound of Your Name” is a plaintive bluegrass-country ballad that sounds a bit out of place amongst the album’s more masculine pieces. Rhonda Vincent’s vocal presence greatly softens the song and this may broaden the song’s appeal. “Another Man’s Arms” is a prison song that has been told before, but Jason Davis’ driving banjo sets this one apart.

Junior Sisk has long been one of bluegrass music’s strongest voices. With three albums fronting his own band, and his latest being quite exceptional, one hopes The Heart of a Song garners the attention and sales it deserves.

Additionally, I’ve decided to start posting reviews of older albums whenever something is relevant to a new release. In this case, a review written several years ago that involved Junior Sisk; for whatever digital file misplacement, I can’t my more recent reviews of Junior Sisk albums.

From 2004:

BlueRidge Side By Side Sugar Hill

Last year, by rough estimate, I was fortunate to catch about 50 bluegrass bands in
concert, ranging from regional heroes to living legends.  No band collectively impressed me more than BlueRidge.  BlueRidge is a band that does its best to combine the traditions established by Bill Monroe and the Stanley Brothers with the contemporary approach taken by bands such as IIIrd Tyme Out and Blue Highway.

With Alan Bibey’s mandolin providing the melodic heart of their sound, on this new
release the band successfully embraces the finest elements of bluegrass precision instrumentation, gracefully constructed harmonies, and awe inspiring devotion to the creation of a identifiable banjo-fueled sound.  A predominant component of this sound is the voice of Junior Sisk.

It has been said, most recently by Dave Robicheaux, that all real artists seem to disappear into that which they create; therefore, Junior Sisk is an artist of the highest order, as he becomes the words he sings, creating a reality as true as his voice is distinct.  Few bluegrass singers capture the country music roots of the genre as effectively as Sisk;
the resulting effortless sound is one that softens some of the music’s harsh edges.  Equally impressive is the quality of his songwriting including the ultimate ‘kiss-off’ song, What If (Then I’ll Come Back To You.)

BlueRidge has recaptured the bluegrass power they established on their previous album, Come Along With Me, and Side By Side should be as favourably received.

 

Walkin’ Talkin’ Dancin’ Singin’- June 14, 2010   Leave a comment

As my 6-month, free subscription to Sirius is soon expiring, I’ve been listening to it a little more this week than the previous few; need to get my fill while I can. I listened to only a couple CDs in the truck this week, but made up for it with pulling out the headphones on the home office-based stereo. Next to no radio listening. Quite a bit of variety this week; some for writing purposes, mostly just for enjoyment.

The album I most enjoyed this week.

The Farewell Drifters- Yellow Tag Monday Finally get around to this one in the paper this coming week. Much like The Infamous Stringdusters, but- to my ears- with more of a pop foundation. An excellent album, in my opinion.

Junior Sisk and Ramblers Choice- Heartache and Dreams Not as immediately impressive as their 2008 release, but more than enjoyable.

Various Artists- Have You Heard- Spring ’09 A Starbucks sampler loaned to me by a friend from work; I think she lent me this same disc last year. Earnest, coffeehouse folk-pop. M. Ward’s “Jailbird” grabbed me this time, as did Fink. Reminds me to pull that Bell X1 disc off the shelf, and Vetiver’s Tight Knit. Most of it is a little too polished for my tastes, but I made it through. Solid drumming throughout.

Perhapst- Perhapst With a name one has to be intrigued by, this one had been sitting on my desk at work for awhile and I finally brought it home for a listen. A good album for a warm Sunday afternoon. I hear Decemberists connections.

Miranda Lambert- Revolution From the library. I’ve been trying to listen to a bit more commercial country because I’ve totally drifted from the field. This one wasn’t as interesting to me as Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, but it does have a Fred song, so… For that reason only, of marginal interest; just not enough memorable material.

Will White- Rise Above It has been a great few months for Alberta roots music, with outstanding releases from Ruth Purves Smith and Donna Durand. Add Will White to the list. Formerly of (sometimes still with?) Widowmaker, White’s debut effort sparkles with Byron Myhre’s fiddling. White’s songs are strong and focused- he uses more words than some might, creating narratives that are fully developed. I’ll continue to spend time with this album.

Dailey & Vincent- Sing the Statler Brothers I enjoyed this one more this time through than last.

Various Artists- Deadicated I picked up this tribute album for $6 a couple weeks back. I fell into the Grateful Dead through cover versions of their songs, including the Dwight Yoakam track contained herein- things like bluegrass renditions of “Friend of the Devil” and “Dire Wolf,” and David Grisman’s collaborations with Garcia. Slowly I overcame my baseless prejudice against the band and bought Workingman’s Dead, but haven’t ventured too far into their catalogue. Some nice stuff on this one.

Woodbend- Hank’s Old Mandolin An Edmonton-based bluegrass band I’m considering for a show this winter.

Fred Eaglesmith- Cha Cha Cha Still enjoying it, but not sure if I understand all of it.

The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse Much like Cha Cha Cha; I’m not sure if I get it.

Kim Wilde- Kim Wilde The 80s were very, very good to me. Given a test last week, I would have been able to name three songs off of here- “Kids in American,” “Chequered Love,” and “26580.” Listening this week, I could sing-along to almost every song, including “Water of Glass,” which makes no sense as far as I can tell.

Kim Wilde- Select Even better than the first. “View From a Bridge” reminds me of a) Smash Hits, a glossy Brit-pop magazine; b) paying too much for import 12” singles; and c) how good Wilde was when she was at the top of her game. I’ll admit, some of her stuff is near unlistenable but her first three or four albums- for what they are- are stellar.

David Broza- Night Dawn: The Unpublished Poetry of Townes Van Zandt I purchased this one after reading about it in, I think, Paste. Only once through so far, but I’m liking it. It is nice to hear someone interpret unfamiliar Townes’ material. I don’t need to hear “If I Needed You” or “Pancho and Lefty” reinterpreted ever again- sorry, Steve. I do want to hear these pieces again.

Molly Hatchet- Flirtin’ with Disaster Sometimes, I can’t explain myself to myself.

Oliver Schroer & The Stewed Tomatoes- Freedom Road A beautiful package. Lovely music, pushing at the boundaries of roots music. I review it this Friday in the paper.

Mark Chesnutt- Outlaw Faded Nashville hitmakers don’t fade away, they just live in the past. In Chesnutt’s case, this is not a criticism. He might as well just done Waylon songs, as 67% of these cuts come from Jennings, either primarily or secondarily. At times, Chesnutt sounds so much like Waylon, you start to doubt your ears. Featured on one track is Amber Digby, whom I hadn’t noticed the first listens through, but her name popped at me this time as I heard a track from her collaboration with Justin Trevino this week on either Sirius 63 or the Willie channel. I downloaded that album last night.

Amber Digby & Justin Trevino- Keeping Up Appearances The way country was for a while in the late-sixties to mid-seventies. Somewhat overwrought ballads of couples in trouble- love, denial, accusation, and acceptance. I’ve never listened to Trevino before, and before this week I had never heard of Digby, so there was ‘risk’ in downloading this one from eMusic; no regrets. It is a wonderful album of what country once was and – in rare cases- still is.

Ian Gomm and Jeb Loy Nichols- Only Time Will Tell When I saw this one on eMusic, my heart pitter-pattered just a little. While I only have a passing listening acquaintance with Nichols, it was a favourable experience listening to Now Then a few years back. On the other hand, Ian Gomm is a favourite from way back; I’ve been listening to him for nearly thirty years. Only Time Will Tell, after only a single listen, is going to be a new fave. It is a Nick Lowe sounding album. I understand it has been out for a while, but it was just added to eMusic. I’ll spend more time with it. I’m not sure how anyone could ever complain about the selection on eMusic; I found three new albums to download within minutes of my downloads refreshing.

Tift Merritt- See You On the Moon Only two songs caught my attention, “Mixtape” and a cover of “Danny’s Song,” a song that wasn’t crying out to me for an update. Both are quite appealing and I’ll need to spend much more time with this album; first impression- I’m underwhelmed, but I was a bit distracted while listening. I didn’t notice the cover of “Live Till You Die” and will give that a spin tonight. Reminds me that I need to get her Austin City Limits DVD back from a friend; that one, I liked.

Jennie Arnau- Chasing Giants I wrote a review for Lonesome Road Review; not sure if Aaron will use it. It isn’t favourable. [Update: It is posted here: http://lonesomeroadreview.wordpress.com/]

Doug and the Slugs- Slugcology 101 One of the finest pop bands to get mixed up in the Canadian new wave; they never belonged there, but the songs hold up just fine.

Jack Williams- Live and In Good Company A favourite writer, singer, and songwriter. I don’t hear him often enough.

Jamey Johnson- That Lonesome Song I’m about two years late on this one. Read all the press, blah, blah, blah. Heard a song hear and there. Really listened to “Mowin’ Down the Roses” one day last week. I downloaded this the next day.

Madness- Total Madness: The Very Best of… In my 300-disc player, this album sits in position 260. Previous to this are five empty slots I use for ‘non-permanent’ jukebox listens. This week, after my review listening was done, this one popped on- I normally shut it off a song or two in, but this time- as I was lazing on the couch wearing headphones, I was much too comfortable to get up. A compact summation of the bands latter day (series one) hits, much more concise than the rambling, three-disc The Business which I’ve only listened to all the way through once. There is goes again…just finished playing the Starbucks album all the way through, and there’s “Our House” starting up. Once in a week is enough, I do believe.

Johnny Cash- Unearthed Disc 5 Which sits in slot 261.