Category Archives: country

Townes Van Zandt – Live at the Old Quarter, Houston, Texas

One of the worst things that can happen at a show is for the songs on the stage to reproduce the songs from the studio, yet live records fall into this trap more often than not. Crowd noise is cleaned up and artificially returned between songs. Rather than reproducing the best show, tracks are culled from multiple shows. Part of… Read more »

Valerie June – The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers

Album cover for Valerie June's The Mood and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers

Valerie June’s voice drew me into this album. I’ve never heard a voice like hers. It’s a little Dolly and a little Erykah and nothing like either. Her voice is wracked with vulnerability yet has the chops to run with any classic girl group. Her songs and lyrics made me stay. The songs are beautifully crafted and move us through… Read more »

Kenny Rogers – The Gambler

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Released: December 1978 When I think of Kenny Rogers, I think of a storyteller. He wasn’t known for being a songwriter, and a 2020 Billboard article quotes him as saying, “Most (of the story songs that writers sent me) were stupid and not well-written, but boy, when you found a good one, it made it all worthwhile.” There are some… Read more »

Review: Elvis Costello – Secret, Profane & Sugarcane

Label: Hear Music Released: June 9, 2009 Elvis Costello has had quite a long and varied career to say the least, making albums bordering on punk on one hand and working with the likes of Burt Bacharach and Allen Toussaint at others. The genres he’s avoided, like metal or hip-hop, are surely more by choice than inability. There’s no question… Read more »

Review: Paula Sinclair – Steadygirl

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Label: Old Sombrero Music Released: March 17, 2009 Some albums are amazing in the way they push the boundaries and change the rules while others are amazing in the way they perform within existing boundaries and prove long established rules. There isn’t much that’s new in Paula Sinclair’s music. She plays something that walks a fine line between country and… Read more »

Review: Carrie Rodriguez – She Ain’t Me

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Label: Manhattan Records Released: August 5, 2008 Carrie Rodriguez’s voice is beautiful. It’s dynamic and full and she can be sultry, powerful and breathy at will. It is, as it should be, the centerpiece and strength of this album. She has the kind of voice that could lead her down any musical road she might choose and it seems more… Read more »

Review: Johnny Cash – The Great Lost Performance

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Label: Island Records Released: July 24, 2007 Frankly, I’m not sure why this is the great lost performance. Surely, in a career as long as Johnny Cash’s, there were many performances that didn’t get recorded or where the tapes were lost. Obviously, this is the one that managed to get itself found, but that only makes it the found performance,… Read more »

Review: Various Artists – Down Home Saturday Night

Label: Smithsonian Folkways Recordings Released: July 31, 2007 As the liner notes describe, all across the country on a Saturday night music and good times go hand in hand and always have. American roots music, from bluegrass to zydeco, has been an influence on modern music as well as a vital part of life for many, many people. It’s the… Read more »