Here’s what’s been catching my attention today:
City Girl, Country Girl has high praise for the new John Prine & Mac Wiseman release Standard Songs For Average People:
The sound of the album is refreshing. The traditional country instruments — dobro, mandolin, fiddle, guitars of all varieties — are allowed to shine without the over-processed, overwhelming production values that mar much of modern country music. (Though the cover art depicts Prine and Wiseman playing guitar, the liner notes indicate that they both play guitar on only “Old Rugged Cross” and Prine plays guitar on “Don’t Be Ashamed of Your Age.”) The background vocals on “Saginaw Michigan” and “Old Cape Cod” create a retro, polished feel like the women who sang the call letters for 1940s radio stations.
Meanwhile, Entertainment Weekly friggin’ loves the new Miranda Lambert, and slips in a subtle dig at Taylor Swift while praising the project:
Crisp-voiced Texan Miranda Lambert’s breakout single, 2005’s ”Kerosene,” gave her a homicidal rep that she embraces on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, her second CD. In ”Gunpowder & Lead,” she waits with a shotgun for her abusive man; the title track has her toting a pistol to confront her ex’s new flame. But fear not, gun-control advocates: The nonviolent side of small-town yearnings is here too (love the lazy back-roads hum of ”Desperation”). And even if her fiery temper’s not for everyone, she never stoops to teardrops-on-my-guitar banalities. A-
Pam Tillis’ Rhinestoned sounds well-mannered upon first listening, but reveals itself as a series of meditations on time and innocence, and as a sumptuous recasting of the country-rock of Gram Parsons and The Gosdin Brothers. It’s a brilliantly sequenced set of songs that looks at success from the vantage point of someone who has seen through all the deception and emerged with a functioning sense of humor.
This week, candidate John Edwards’ campaign announced that a new country CD will be sent out to anyone who donates $50 or more to his campaign. The CD, Moneyland, includes a number of country artists. Here’s his campaign message about it:
“If you chip in $50 or more, you’ll receive a free advance copy of the not-yet-released CD Moneyland. Moneyland tells the story of the plight of rural America, through a collection of recordings, both old and new, from legendary country and bluegrass recording artists, including: The Del McCoury Band, Merle Haggard, [Gillian] Welch, Marty Stuart, Emmylou Harris, Bruce Hornsby & the Fairfield Four, Mac Wiseman, Patty Loveless and more.”
I’m not a huge Edwards fan – he’s a bit heavy on Crest White Strips smiles and light on actual substantive experience for me. But he’s got a hell of a mix CD.
Haggard’s playing both sides of the fence though, as he’s also pushing Hillary in a song by the same name:
If we don’t elect Hillary, then we’ll never know/She is the right lady, and her husband’s a pro/Eight years in the White House with the know-how we need/When you walk with a leader, you learn how to lead/And who kept her head high when it could have been down?/And who ran the show when the scandal hit down?/This country needs to be honest, changes need to be large/Something like a big switch of gender/Let’s put a woman in charge.
As Flippo notes, the song is available for download at Haggard’s website. He fails to mention it’s a live recording, and it’s very entertaining to hear the audience, who aren’t quite sure if he’s seriously advocating for her candidacy or just poking fun. Needless to say, “Let’s put a woman in charge” gets the biggest crowd response, and I think it’s all the women cheering on the idea more so than the namesake of the song.
Chicks With Picks
Finally, I want to send some love to Chicks Rock! Chicks Rule!, the best fan site I’ve ever seen. There are tons of rare audio and video clips from the Dixie Chicks. If you’re a fan, you’ll be in hog heaven. I recommend starting with the Howard Stern interview. It’s friggin’ hilarious.