Entries in real deal country album (2)

Monday
Mar192012

The Cactus Blossoms 'Self-Titled' Self-Released

Just when you think that country music has slipped into the crossover pop vortex some music comes along to restore your faith in some real hardcore traditionally influenced examples of the form. Those who miss the early days of BR5-49 when Chuck Mead and Gary Bennett shared the lead vocals on a set of "true stories" will be well pleased with the Cactus Blossoms. The two main men are Jack Torrey and Page Burkam who have their sibling harmonies down to a T and individually sound like they were running around the honky-tonks with their heroes. This short 10 track CD is lean and effective with the original songs, largely by Jack Torrey, sitting easily beside classic songs from the early 50s era. Two feature here, the traditional Lost John Dean and Alton Delmore's Blue Railroad Train which show the versatility of the vocalists and the supporting players - who are Mike Razz Russell on fiddle, Randy Broughten on upright steel and bassist Liz Draper. This trio add much to the overall sound of this tight Minnesota-based combo and balances youthful exuberance and experience This is as fine as a debut album as you could wish for and highlights the enduring nature of country and, yes, western music. 

Saturday
Jan142012

Moot Davis 'Man About Town' - Highway Kind

After two albums on Pete Anderson's Little Dog label, which Anderson produced and arranged as well as playing on, Moot Davis has relocated back to New Jersey and has recorded his new album in Nashville with guitarist Kenny Vaughan as producer. Davis is a distinctive singer who has just the right amount of twang in his voice to define him as a country singer as well as a fine writer of classic heartbreak and lovelorn songs. Here all the songs are written by Davis and they cover a range of country and contemporary sounds that make it fresh and relevant to today. Looking as cool and collected on the cover as a fashion model or from the set of Mad Men, Davis' one giveaway to the music within is the left-handed Telecaster he strums. Kenny Vaughan has gathered a crack team that includes his Superlative band mates along with Chris Scruggs, Hank Singer and George Bradfute. There is a duet with Elizabeth Cook on Crazy In Love With You. It's one of many standout songs which also includes the opening Rags To Rhinestones, the 12 string guitar intro'd Fade To Gold, or the extended desperate mood of Black & White Picture which clocks in at over 7 minuets but never looses it's momentum with textures of steel and spanish guitars on what is a tale of death and devastation wrought by a jealous husband which updates the Marty Robbins format with style and verve. Davis is a writer who understands country music's heart and soul and can bring it into the 21st century in a way that acknowledges its past while being aware of its future. There are some other artists who are pushing its boundaries in ways that are innovative and interesting but there is also a need for an artist like Davis who makes his music true to himself and to those who love country music that has not become a pop pastiche or an alt.country offshoot. Man About Town finds Moot Davis in good shape and building on his solid reputation for being the real deal. A triumph to these ears at the very least.