She didn’t choose the title Puxico for the way it popped for focus group audiences. It’s the name of her less than 1,000 population hometown in southeastern Missouri that sets the scene for an album that feels devoutly personal, humble in approach, and eager to express things a professional songwriter just can’t with total fulfillment through the voices of others.
It was bound to happen at some point. It’s almost strange it took so long. Two guys who have long called Austin, TX their main haunt, and who have made careers out of steadfastly sticking to their guns in their particular styles of country music, be damned of the financial ramifications, what fleeting trends come and go, or what Nashville thinks of it all, joining forces on a duets record.
Like an incorrigible habit that only works to expand the gut, shave years off of life, spends your money, and puts distance between yourself and the realization of your goals and dreams, country music should make a resolution to drop Sam Hunt and his big bag of nothing like the smelly, disgusting, cancerous, unhealthy habit he is.
You certainly can find better bluegrass albums released in 2016, but it might be hard to find one more remarkable or historically significant. For generations now, the true devotees of the Grateful Dead have known that Jerry Garcia’s passion for bluegrass, old time, and country music was much more than some simple lark or a passing era in the legendary jam band’s lineage.
West Virginia is as good a place as any to find huddled masses of hard working folks who are constantly facing down hard times, or having to work jobs many of us would not wish on our worst enemies. Union Sound Treaty from Morgantown speaks to those burdens and fears better than most in their debut album called ‘Next Year.’
Chris LeDoux’s son Ned, who started playing drums in his father’s backing band Western Underground way back in 1998, has stepped up to take the reigns from his father. Though first a bit timid to take center stage in his father’s absence, he now sees it as his duty to introduce a new generation of country fans to his father’s music.
It’s hard to know if you should call Austin, TX’s Reckless Kelly Red Dirt, Southern Rock, Texas country, or something completely different. Part of the problem is they’ve been so damn good for so damn long, everyone wants to claim them in their cadre, and because they had a hand in forming nascent scenes that are now the standard bearers for country’s subgenres.
Once again Slim Cessna’s Auto Club have turned in an effort that touches parts of the musical palette you never knew existed, challenges the listener with adroit lyricism and structure, and offers a musical experience so unusual that it’s hauntingly riveting and hypnotic.
In the country music department, the amount of emphasis on Christmas releases in 2016 has been nothing short of astounding, and maybe even historic. And I’m not just talking about “Rascal Flatts Sing The Chipmunks” or whatever crap that’s out there. Even independent artists and country legends have showered the country music listening public…
It’s always worth a chuckle when you hear someone say that country music must “evolve” to stay relevant, or hear an artist bellyache about how constricting country music is to their creativity. And then you put on a record like this and hear just how much a true artist can do with a simple message and melody, and three chords and the truth.
If Willie Nelson and Arlo Guthrie are remembered for nothing else in music, perhaps they’ll be notable as the sires of the musical progeny Amy Nelson and Cathy Guthrie, known collectively as Folk Uke. A unique project to say the least, you might be surprised to hear that the 2nd generation musicians have been making music together for nearly 20 years now.
Whether one may ultimately settle upon ‘The Weight of These Wings’ with a more positive or negative take, what is next to indisputable is that it is a significant release. ‘The Weight of These Wing’s is the symbolic entry of Miranda Lambert—the biggest female country star for the last six or so years—into the Americana/independent/east Nashville mindset
You never know what Jesse Dayton may have his hands dirty with at any given moment. He could be playing guitar for Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings right before they pass away, or collaborating with Rob Zombie on some horror flick, or producing a record with Eddie Spaghetti. Last year he was touring around with the band ‘X’ filling in for Billy Zoom on guitar.
Ronnie Dunn has the voice and the name to where if he wanted to transition into a legacy act or do like Tim McGraw and make the best of the opening up of the format to better songs, he could really do some damage. But he has to really commit to it. His days of #1 hits and CMA Awards are unfortunately in the past.
What’s going “outta style” is Bro-Country and songs that chase trends, while traditional country has once again proved to be the timeless influence in country music that always comes back to the forefront. This should bode well for an artist like Aaron Watson if he sticks to what he does best.
Full of true-to-life stories run through a gritty filter, ‘Downhearted Fools’ is Chris Stalcup singing about what he finds right smack dab under his nose—the adversities and self-doubts that smack him in the face like every rising sun so rudely blasting through tattered shades, reminding one of the heartbreaks and sordid affairs of the night before.
“Better Man” is interesting for many reasons. Unfortunately, most of those reasons have little to do with the music itself. But this track is far from the worst transgressions on country radio, and it is refreshing to hear song that’s not all rosy targeted to the mainstream set. It will perform well as a cozy winter single tiding over Taylor Swift fans.
One of the most difficult undertakings for a music reviewer is to share your opinion on a record that you ultimately favor more than fault, but happen to have more critical observations for than positive ones, especially when public sentiment is tilting so favorably towards it already. It just becomes a recipe for misunderstanding.
‘Heart of a Flatland Boy’ is refreshingly raw and energetic, with tightly-wound songs all written or co-written by Dylan, and a straightforward but effective production approach, blurring the lines between country and heartland rock in both the sound and themes, and painting a mental picture of places and people that are filled with a meaningfulness…
There may be no better example of how the mainstream country music industry has completely bought into the shifting of the paradigm to more traditional and more substantive music than the signing of the band Midland to Big Machine Records. It’s this pretty strange development that speaks to just how deeply rooted this movement has entrenched itself into the industry now.