It’s another good week for new music, so let’s hop right on.
Servant Of Love
Having heard that this was a “breakup” album, I was expecting something pretty somber from Patty this time around. Although there are some sad songs here, descriptors like “haunting” and “deeply honest” come to mind first. A few of the ballads feature the kalimba, which is cool, and the grittier tunes, like “Hurt a Little While” feature guitarist Scrappy Jud Newcombe. I can’t help assuming that Griffin is singing from personal experience and that I know who she broke up with on “You Never Asked Me” and most of the other songs. Her voice, perspective, and songwriting shine brightly here with hope and grace.
Soul Searching: Vol. 1 Memphis/Vol. 2. Nashville
Someone at the Americana Music Association conference in Nashville last week called Jim Lauderdale “the John Denver of Americana,” which I thought was pretty funny and hopefully referred to his attitude and not his music. After two seperate albums last year, Lauderdale continues to be a songwriting machine with this double album of 26 original songs. What’s even more amazing is this album is all Southern soul, something I’m sure John Denver never did.
Both discs were co-produced by Luther Dickinson, who plays guitar on every track, along with NMAS drummer and brother Cody Dickinson. Vol. 1 was recorded in Memphis with Spooner Oldham, David Hood, Charles and Leroy Hodges, and other session legends. I think these songs are stronger, more soulful, and more cohesive than we’re used to from Lauderdale.
Vol. 2 Nashville, is a little less funk and has more of Jim’s melodic and lyrical experiments. “One Big Company” is a nice comical critique of the corporate domination of America.
On this album, Shawn Colvin’s breathy, soulful voice transforms some great songs that you probably already know, by men with last names like Springsteen, Waits, Fogerty, Simon, and Wonder. Standouts for me are Graham Nash’s “I Used to Be a King” and Tammy Wynette’s “‘Til I Get It Right.” They all get the acoustic, mellow Colvin treatment, much like her last all-covers album, Cover Girl (1994). Many of these songs will end up on a supermarket soundtrack near you, but one could do much worse.
In the over-produced category, we have Eagle Don Henley, who went to Nashville to record Cass County. I will give him credit for recording the Louvins’ classic “When I Stop Dreaming” with Dolly Parton. Tift Merritt’s “Bramble Rose” is pretty nice too. This album is a good argument for downlaoding individual tracks.
Andrea Zonn’s Rise dissappoints even more. Perhaps someone thought this would get on the radio. Your dollars would be better spent on the new Los Lobos’ venerable Gates Of Gold or Canadian David Myles’ witty collection, So Far.
Two more albums this week that snuck in “under the wire,” that I must point out, are by respected Nashville transplants. Webb Wilder walks the line between blues, power pop, country, and more on Mississippi Moderne. Webb pronounces it “Moe-durn,” and that’s good enough for me.
Also, Colin Linden, who’s played with everyone — take my word for it, or Wiki him. His Rich in Love leans more towards the blues.
Next week we have the Bottle Rockets, the Black Lillies, Kinky Friedman, Wood Brothers, and more already in the pile. Take care.