Friday
Oct082010

Kevin Welch 'A Patch Of Blue' Sky Music Road

Always a strong writer and recognizable singer Kevin Welch has been making his mark for quite a few years now, as a solo artist, as a member of the Dead Reckoners and with Kane, Welch, Kaplan. This new album finds him recording in Texas with musicians like Glenn Fukunaga, Bukka Allen, Rick Richards and his band mate Fats Kaplan as well as his son Dustin Welch. The songs are well up to his usual standard and are all written or co-written by Welch and are set here in a relaxed roots style setting that has that definable Austin, Texas feel. His concerns are exemplified with a song like The Great Emancipation which deals with spirit and belief and overcoming the inevitable hard times. The songs also deal with location, with leaving, with seeking and finding. Andaman Sea has the sonic depth of a cello as a foundation to the accordion and acoustic guitar backing. It is again Welch's worn voice that brings the song it's focus and depth. Something that is true throughout this album. Those who have listened to Welch throughout his career know his worth and are, like me, delighted to have him back with an album of his own, one that is well up there with his best work, sonorous and sensuous. A patch of blue sky in an often increasingly gray sky. www.kevinwelch.com

Friday
Oct082010

Billy Currington Enjoy Yourself Mercury/Humphead

Diversity is the name of the game in Nashville these days with the gameplan deciding most of the major label releases should go for the crossover touchdown. Billy Currington has songs from writers like Shawn Camp and players like Paul Franklin on pedal steel but on the song Love Done Gone Currington co-production with Carson Chamberlain delivers a brass led bright pop sound that is a long way from what I know as country music. He gets a little closer to that sound on Pretty Good At Drinkin' Beer - one of those "I'm a country boy at heart" type of songs beloved at radio these days. Elsewhere the songs look at equating a relationship to the love his dog has for him. Perfect Day has nothing to do with Lou Reed, no this one is about sitting on the beach watchin' the sun come up with a girlfriend. Nice work if you can get it. The rest of the album follows an easy going path with Currington in good voice on both the slow and uptemp songs. A relaxed, sun and fun seeking kind of an album that may well appeal to Kenny Chesney devotees and to his own fans. Bad Of Fishin' again extolls the virtues of more leisure time taking it easy and the music despite the presence of steel and select members of Nashville's A-Team the music is pleasant without ever taking you anywhere special. The closing Lil' Ol' Lonesome Dixie Town written by Billy Joe Walker and Shawn Camp closes the album in a better mode with a uptempo, energetic slice of jukebox playing, beer drinkin' having a fun time but don't let it get out of hand type of fun.

Wednesday
Oct062010

Josh Turner 'Haywire' Humphead

The man with the deep, deep voice is back with his latest album. A solid collection of up beat songs that fits the radio formatting criteria in that Frank Rogers production is robust and rounded with mandolin, banjo and country guitar well placed in the mix of these mainly uptempo songs. The ballads like, Lovin' You On My Mind are big productions, with strings and backing vocals giving the whole song an added layer of gloss. The problem here, for this listener, is that few of the songs have any bite or grit. Many of them could be equally recorded, with a slightly different sound by the likes of Westlife. Turner's co-writes As Fast As I Could and Eye Candy (which is a very catchy song, co-written with tongue firmly in cheek by Shawn Camp and Pat McLaughlin) are marginally better as one suspects that Turner would like to get his vocal chords around something more substantial. The song Long Black Train is an example of that, and is here in a watered down version as a bonus track on this deluxe edition, but there is nothing here that has the same resonance. Haywire is well produced, played and sung and is an easy listen from one of Music Row's more traditional artists but the whole thing feels like sugar sweet piece of candy rather something more fulfilling.

Wednesday
Oct062010

Wednesday
Sep082010

Jim Lauderdale 'Patchwork River' Skycrunch

By now his music is recognizable by Lauderdale's increasingly confident singing and his subtle melodic song structures. Something that has given him some devoted fans and admirers if not much opportunity to dent the mainstream. His songs, cover by others - notably George Strait, still hit the charts but Jim Lauderdale, in his own right, seems more of an acquired taste. This new album, on his new label imprint, is another collaboration with former Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter and is subtle and varied. It covers soulful sounds like Louisville Roll with organ and brass and Patty Griffin on vocal harmonies through to a song like El Dorado with the great James Burton on guitar, Al Perkins on pedal steel guitar and Ron Tutt on drums. Here he gets close to Gram Parsons Cosmic Country Music tag. There are sad reflections in the quiet mood of Far In The Far Away. Or there's the country twang of Between Your Heart And Mine where Patti Griffin again delivers some excellent harmonies. Production is shared between Lauderdale, Doug Lancio and longtime collaborator Tim Coats. Jim Lauderdale is a consummate songwriter who can add a underlying twist to any style he choses to bring to his recordings with the end result being nothing less that Lauderdale music - rootsy, soulful, solidly constructed and open to repeated playing and personal favourites. This patchwork is bright, colourful and will doubtless warm you if you were let it's aura slip around you.