Entries in Kimmie Rhodes (4)

Tuesday
Jan272015

Kimmie Rhodes 'Cowgirl Boudoir' - Sunbird

Anyone familiar with the songs and sweet voice of Kimmie Rhodes will be happy to hear this new album from the Texas songbird. The title suggests both intimacy and a rootsy musical direction. This is true in the fourteen song set, but there is also vulnerability as evinced in a song like Will You, wherein she wonders who will come and visit her when she is in need. 

The album is again produced by her son and musical foil Gabriel in Texas’ Sunbird Studios and they are joined by seasoned players like Glen Fukunaga on bass and Tommy Spurlock on steel guitar and Dobro. Gabriel Rhodes brings his usual musical and production dexterity to the proceedings, which in the end means it all turns out in a recognisable Rhodes family style.

Fellow singer/songwriter Johnny Goudie joins Kimmie for two songs; the opener, I Am Falling, which is graced by steel guitar on a song that follows the downward path of the protagonists. The two voices blend together well to spin out this tale of self-destruction, while Having You Around is more uptempo and they sing the words together about a non relationship that has reached a base level of a familiarity that simply breeds content. The songs are all written or co-written by Rhodes, with her customary clarity and humanity. Gary Nicholson co-wrote the positive album closer Yes, a bright and uplifting song that counts collective blessings.

There has always been a certain innocence in Kimmie’s voice, even when the words are dealing with situations that are far from light. Don’t Leave Me Like This is about a lost love or even a much deeper loss. That sense of being left alone, or the fear of such, tends to be theme in many of the songs. The Sky fell Down, with it’s distinctive electric sitar sound, makes that clear with it’s repeated title vocal refrain. However, as with all her music, Rhodes has a positive attitude and outlook at the heart of her songwriting that is underlined by her lightness of touch.

The album is dedicated to the late Cowboy Jack Clement who was an inspiration, as were some of the artists who have previously recorded her songs like Joe Ely and Willie Nelson. This cowgirl seems ready for the next round-up, so saddle up and go along for the ride.

Sunday
Nov032013

Kimmie Rhodes 'Covers' - Sunbird

When you can boast the company and respect of Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Townes van Zandt, Emmylou Harris, Wynonna Judd and Trisha Yearwood you don’t need to prove anything to anybody when it comes to penning a song. Kimmie has stood tall among her peers for numerous years now and Willie Nelson once dubbed her an ‘undiscovered superstar’.

Born in Lubbock Texas, this country music great moved to Austin in the late 1970’s and released her first recording in 1981. Jumping 32 years, we now find Kimmie releasing her 15th recording and for one as feted as her in terms of song-writing over the intervening years; we are given a record of cover versions.

This selection of 15 tracks has been the fulfilment of a career-long dream to record a complete collection of songs written by other artists. We get an interesting mix and an insight into the songs that have inspired Kimmie over the years.

The problem in recording a covers album is that everybody listens with the memory of the original song and compares the cover version against it. By this very process, an artist can fall a long way and lose the listener. Some of the songs are brave attempts to bring a new spin to an old favourite, while other selections could be said to be best left alone.

After all, how do you improve on what is already deemed to be perfection?  The song interpretations here contain some are obvious fits, while others may take a little bit of time.

We get two Lennon/McCartney songs, two Bob Dylan songs, Jagger/Richards, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Mark Knopfler and Rodney Crowell songs; all added to the mix of what is undoubtedly a recording of high quality.

It is the unusual selections that stand out most for me. Georgia Lee, written by Tom Waits and his wife, Kathleen Brennan is a standout interpretation and brings new colour to the idiosyncratic style of the original artist. Stuck in a Moment by Bono is less successful and yet the slow tempo gives the simple arrangement an added depth on repeated listenings.

Kimmie lost her husband, Joe Gracey, in 2011 and this is her first recording following such a sad event. Joe was an instrumental figure in the development of the country music scene in Texas and was a collaborator, bass player and soul mate to Kimmie since the beginning of her journey. I cannot help but hear his memory in many of the vocal performances here and the Rodney Crowell Adam’s Song is particularly affecting and a standout moment.   

The playing and song arrangements are excellent throughout and the stellar line up of musicians is ably guided by Gabriel Rhodes, both son and producer, in addition to playing guitar, keyboards, mandolin and accordion. A very gifted musician and a talented producer; I know that Joe would have been proud of the results on this fine collection.

Kimmie has indeed earned the right to record this guilty pleasure and to indulge herself a little. A worthy addition to her impressive catalogue of music and recommended to all country music lovers who enjoy real quality. Good on you girl.

Friday
Feb112011

Kimmie Rhodes 'Dreams Of Flying' Self-release

Following her Christmas release comes this new album of original songs and two covers. She is again with her son Gabriel as producer. There have been some tough times for her of late and this is reflected in songs like Back Again with it's refrain of "trying to bring you back again". Elsewhere the songs are of a personal exploration of relationships and of love. Personal and universal. Her voice is often understated and unforced. It allows for her essentially gentle nature to shine through over the restrained backings provided by Gabriel and musicians like Charlie Sexton and John Gardner. One cover is a duet between Rhodes and fellow Lubbock native Joe Ely on Donovan's Catch The Wind, a version which draws a certain weariness into the song. The other is a song written by her son Jeremie Rhodes, Again it fits perfectly into the overall picture, which is one that her fans will enjoy. Much of the album deals with coming to terms with the way life can twist and turn and through up the unexpected. But in doing so you need to face it with fortitude, understanding and love for those around you. Dreams Of Flying is about finding a certain release and for Kimmie Rhodes one way to do this is through her music and her musical family. There are a lots of strands within the textures of this music that can be warm and playfull as well as being, at times soulfully sad, but always listenable and always Kimmie Rhodes at her best and most poetic.

Sunday
Nov282010

Kimmie Rhodes 'Miracles On Christmas Day' Sunbird

As befits the album's title this album is full of warm sounds and good tidings. Rhodes is well know to her followers who will be well at home with the sentiments of these songs. Penned in the main by Rhodes and on occasion with a writing partner. Her son Gabriel and husband Joe are again, central to the proceedings. Gabriel behind the recording and Joe looking after the mixing and mastering. They are joined by a diverse set of players including Hunts Sales taking care of the rhythms, Glen Fukunaga on bass, Tommy Spurlock on pedal steel, Floyd Domino on piano and Joel Guzman on accordion alongside Gabriel multi-instrumental contribution. The afore mentioned players may suggest something more countryish than is actually the case. The songs are diverse in arrangements and musical style. Her Wake Up Sleepy Town has a lovely vocal delivery over Guzman's accordion backing. Elsewhere the vocals are delivered in a lighter almost whisper that suits the songs theme and mood. The Toymaker's Hands a case in point. The songs are strong enough that some could become standards and are ripe for covering by other artists. Their arrangement of What Child Is This is haunting and beautiful, the mix of cello and spanish guitar leading to Rhodes elegant vocal. Patty Griffin's Mary is one of the few wholly outside songs and its given an equally strong reading that is in keeping with the strong lyric. There are those that love Christmas albums and those that run a million miles away but this album has been put together not to cash in on a sentimental trend but for the right reasons, for the love of a season. It shows.