When Lee Ann Womack set out to construct her 2014 album The Way I’m Livin’, she went looking for songs that weren’t written by committee as is the norm in Nashville these days, but songs that originated from one person going through a human experience who then shared that experience through song. Such a search if it was to be thorough and prudent would almost invariably involve Chris Knight.
This isn’t just your average album release, or even your average album release from Lee Ann Womack. This one has a little more special meaning for Womack since it is her first release without a major label, and a release that helps rate of progress for both women and traditional country artists looking to revitalize their place to a wider audience.
When you sit down to assemble a list of candidates for Song of the Year, you almost start to tremble in the face of so much creativity, inspiration, and insight, and grow humbled by how fortunate we are to live in such a bountiful time for music. Candidates for Song of the Year can’t just be songs we enjoy, they are songs that make you change the way you see the world, or change the way you see yourself.
Gone are the days of the legendary duet pairings in country music like George and Tammy, Loretta and Conway, but the Austin country scene’s power couple of Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay have revitalized the country duet concept album in a smart, brilliant, hilarious, and sweet offering called Before The World Was Made.
“Take It And Break It” affords nine new original tracks from Rondeau, and is produced by R.S. Field who has previously worked with folks like Billy Joe Shaver and Hayes Carll, and produced Justin Townes Earle’s first two LP’s. This album has a great spirit and is a worthy receptacle for these original songs that now get to go out into the world and find inviting hearts.
The Carper Family is at it again with a brand new album called Old-Fashioned Gal, and it’s a family affair featuring The Carper Family troika of Melissa Carper, Beth Crisman, and Jenn Miori, right beside some of the brightest talents of Austin, TX’s old-school country scene. The Carper Family girls can shift from Western Swing, old-school country, folk, covers and originals, embellishing it all with exquisite three-part harmony.
I remember a few years ago I was at the Hole in the Wall bar in Austin, TX, right by the UT campus, watching songwriting couple Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay performing. Brennen Leigh told the crowd that right after the show, her and Noel had to drive to Nashville, and how she was dreading the trip. “But then Noel reminded me that since we’re going north, we get to stop in West for kolaches, and so now I’m super excited.”
The Carper Family illustrates the unfair, unreasonable amount of talent, and specifically female talent, that can be found in Austin, TX on any given night. And that is what The Carper Family does; they are a working, local band, playing many nights a week at various Austin venues. Back When proves that this local band deserves more national, and international attention.
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