Sunday, December 26, 2010

Best of 2010

In most years, the best part of undertaking the task of creating a best of list, is highlighting the emerging artists that were unearthed. That was not the case in 2010. It was a year of the tried and true. It was like the a pair of worn out jeans you can't replace, because they are perfectly broken in and comfortable.

There were some good finds, like The Constellations and Phosphorescent. While Austin Collins is not a new name, he firmly established himself with the infectious "Wrong Control". However, my list for 2010 is primarily populated with the familiar, like Old 97's, Patty Griffin and Alejandro Escovedo. The album of the year is Robert Plant's "Band of Joy". Robert Plant is as familiar as it gets. So look at the list below and give me your feedback, whether bad or good, I can take it.
1 Robert Plant-Band of Joy

2 Old 97's-The Grand Theater Vol. One

3 Patty Griffin-Downtown Church

4 Austin Collins-Wrong Control

5 Paul Thorn-Pimps & Preachers

6 Ryan Bingham & The Dead Horses-Junky Star

7 Alejandro Escovedo-Street Songs of Love

8 Drive-By Truckers-The Big To-Do

9 Justin Townes Earle-Harlem River Blues

10 Crooked Still-Some Strange Country

11 Steeldrivers-Reckless Side of Me

12 Two Cow Garage-Sweet Saint Me

13 Phosphorescent-Here’s to Taking it Easy

14 Constellations-Southern Gothic

15 Dierks Bentley-Up On The Ridge

16 Marty Stuart-Studio B Sessions

17 Eleven Hundred Springs-This Crazy Life

18 Reckless Kelly-Somewhere In Time

19 John Hiatt-The Open Road

20 Jason & The Scorchers-Halcyon Times

21 Chattam County Line-Wildwood

22 Grace Potter & the Nocturnals-Grace Potter & the Nocturnals

23 Bobby Bare Jr.-A Storm, A Tree, My Mother's Head

24 Elliot Randall & The Deadmen-Caffeine & Gasoline

25 Infamous Stringdusters-Things That Fly

26 Jesse Malin & the St. Mark's Social-Love It To Life

27 The Gaslight Anthem-American Slang

28 Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs-God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise

29 Pat Anderson -Magnolia Road

30 Railroad Earth-Railroad Earth

31 Ray Wylie Hubbard-A Enlightenment B Endarkenment Hint There Is No C

32 Carrie Rodriguez-Love And Circumstance

33 Dale Watson-Carryin' On

34 Honey Child-Nearer the Earth

35 The Hold Steady-Heaven is Wherever

35 Tim O'Brien-Chicken & Egg

37 Elizabeth Cook-Welder

38 Cherryholmes-IV

39 Willie Nelson-Country Music

40 Los Lobos-Tin Can Trust

41 Steel Wheels-Red Wing

42 Ted Leo & the Pharmacists-The Brutalist Bricks

43 Yarn-Come On In

44 Merle Haggard-I Am What I Am

45 Jim Lauderdale-Patchwork River

46 Tift Merritt-See You On The Moon

47 Great American Taxi -Reckless Habits

48 Jesse Dayton-One for the Dance Halls

49 Pete Yorn-Pete Yorn

50 Kasey Anderson-Nowhere nights

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Amos Lee- Mission Bell

On January 25th, Amos Lee is going to release Mission Bell on Blue Note Records. Mark your calendars, this early January release will remain on many best of lists by the end of 2011. Characteristically, Lee's soulful voice is the focal point of the album. However, the sound of Mission Bell exhibits more texture than his previous releases. The project is produced by Joey Burns, from Calexico. His imprints are seen on every song. Mission Bell has a compelling echo, that adds a new dimension to Amos Lee's sound, and perfectly matches the lyrical theme of each track. 

It is an album about searching. The search is not temporal. Instead, the search is a cerebral journey. "Windows are Rolled Down" takes place at the interseciton of lonliness and renewal. The dichotomy of despair and hope pull the listener in two different directions. Conversely "Flower" is infused with a hope that is more optimistic, in fact it is a mature form of Naivete. Some songs, like "Stay With Me" are more atmospheric, but the soulful side of Lee is not lost or overshadowed on "Mission Bell", as shown by the song "Learned a Lot". However, an album with this much texture is perfect for guests like Sam Beam (Iron and Wine), Lucinda Williams and Pieta Brown. Willie Nelson also appears on the final track to make the exit from Mission Bell equal to its' entrance.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Paul Thorn - Pimps & Preachers

You can always count on Paul Thorn to provide a picture of life in the margins. His new effort Pimps and Preachers paints many different portraits. There are catchy singer-songwriter story songs like the opener “You’re Not the Only One”, which shows that the problems and trials of life are not unique to the family going through them. They are in fact prevalent in their own neighborhood. The title cut is a roots rocker about someone raised with two contradictory influences. However, the song reveals that these two mentors are really two sides of the same coin. “Love Scar” demonstrates the recklessness of getting a tattoo with your lovers name on it. It’s not hard to guess how the story ends.

Thorn also delivers some Electric Blues on this project that has the best musicianship on any of his recordings to date. Any many ways, Pimps and Preachers is a career defining album. The same brilliance exhibited on earlier albums like Mission Temple Fireworks Stand is present here. However, this new effort has a more diverse pallet. At the same time Thorn’s characteristic dry cynicism hasn’t been lost. “I don’t Like Half the Folk I Love” is a prime example of his dry wit. For those of us who are already Paul Thorn fans, Pimps and Preachers gives us everything we expect and much more.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mike Farris - The Night Cumberland Came Alive

I'm not sure why the May floods that hit Nashville in May of this year did not seem to grasp the nation's attention like other recent natural disasters did. There was a lot of press attention, but it seems that the lack of hurricane force winds made the story less captivating. However, the people who lost homes and loved ones in the flood were as devastated as Katrina victims.

Mike Farris (The former front man of Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies) decided he would rectify the situation with a benefit EP. The Night Cumberland Came Alive is a Gospel recording done at the Downtown Presbyterian Church. This historic Church is the same venue Patty Griffin recorded her recent Gospel project. Farris is no stranger to Gospel, having won a Dove award for his most recent album Shout!  Proceeds will be used to help the flood victims.

The guest list is impressive featuring, Sam Bush, Kenny Vaughan (Marty Stuart), Ketch Secor and Gill Landry from Old Crow Medicine Show and Byron House. The opening title track is a wake up call to our own mortality, "I will remember the night the Cumberland came alive. It should remind you that you were born to die." Howver, the shock of the tragedy, is balanced by the call for hope and restoration provided by the song  "Dear Lazrus". Combine Farris' vocal styling with the all-star musicians contributing to the project and you have a donation worth making.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Jon Langford - Old Devils

Is it possible for the leader of bands like the Waco Brothers andhe Mekons to become introspective, and produce an album that results in something beyond the live music bar bash that characterizes every Waco Brothers show? The simple answer is yes. Langford is also a very accomplished outsider artist, maybe his visual art is bleeding into his songwriting.

The Rootsy Punk is still there, but there is also an introspective biography embedded in the album. There are autobiographical tracks and stories of other characters, who seem to exhibit traits and faults that he sees in himself. Dare I say the album is Folk with Pumk undertones. That description seems as oxymoronic as James Taylor spitting on his audience in a Sid Vicious type rage. In reality, that is what Jon Langford's  audience is presented with on Old Devils

Why are the words so poignant this time around? Only Langford can answer that for himself. However, no matter who you are or what your vocation, there comes a time when you must mature from being an innovator to a mentor. This is an uncomfortable task for some people. Langford seems to be straddling the fence himself. If so, that is a shame because Jon Langford is the type of multi-faceted creative genius that young artists should seek out. Maybe we could start a petition to get him on the next "Dancing with the Stars." In fact, what could get him more recognition than doing the tango while grabbing the ass of some forgotten actress. If nothing else, Jon Langford could make reality TV worth watching.

Jon Langford Website

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Marty Stuart - Ghost Train , The Studio B Sessions

The new Marty Stuart release, Ghost Train , The Studio B Sessions, has everything a real Country album should have. The album was recorded at the famed RCA Studio B in Nashville. The studio was designed in the 50's by Chet Atkins and quickly became the Country Capital's premier recording venue. In fact, It would be easier to make a list of the "Nashville Sound" era artists that did not record there than a list of the ones that did. Marty Stuart has always played the role of being a bridge from the past to the present. He works hard to keep the traditional styles of Americana vibrant, even in the current Idol winner tuned hillbilly world of Country Music. Along the way he has been able to buck the trend and record some big hits of his own.

On Ghost Train  he decided to include as many of the styles and themes of traditional Country as possible. Of course there is the unmistakable influence of his former father-in-law, Johnny Cash. In fact, the executioner's tale, "Hangman", was co-written with Cash shortly before the Man in Black passed away. Ghost Train begins with the outlaw Honky-Tonk of "Branded", then follows it up with a Rockabilly number, "Country Boy Rock". The most emotional song is the heheartbreak ballad "Driftin' Apart". When Stuart sings "I'm a stranger in your world now and it's driving me out of my mind", you feel the pain of a love torn apart over time. Along the way he even works in a Bluegrass tune and themes such as the plight of the working man. It is as if Stuart is on a missionary's journey to preserve the history of Americana Music. Hopefully, he wins a lot of converts along the way.

Check out Stuarts newest venture:
The TV network RFD-TV

Thursday, July 29, 2010


I have to admit bias on this one. When a band can have lyrics like, "Second thoughts have occurred. I feel like a gigantic turd. Walking barefoot like a hooker at 3 in the morning," I can't give it a bad review. The truth is these boys from Georgia have unleashed a great album. The band is unsigned and primarily a local phenomenon. I have a feeling that is all about to change. In spite of the lyrics above (from the song "Swamp County") this is no novelty act. Hayshaker is for real. 
They mix a sound that is at times Country, but with a twist. They know how to use power chord licks with abandon. Lead singer CC Rider has a voice that sounds as if it should be singing Indie Rock instead of Roots Rock. Female vocalist Laurie Rider rounds out the bands sound, which is hard to categorize. The best way to describe Hayshaker is "Kick-Ass" Country. The steel guitar haunts the music of the album, which is also a part of their uniqueness. Lyrically the band is at times humorous, but they are more often deep and impactful. They have a talent of mixing sarcasm with truth. It is time to jump on the bandwagon while it still has room. I have a feeling there will be a second deck on the bandwagon before too long.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Darrel Scott In Robert Plant's New Super Group

Acclaimed musician and songwriter Darrell Scott has been tapped to join Robert Plant’s new project, Band of Joy, whose tour begins tomorrow in Memphis, TN. The super group, which includes Plant and Scott alongside Patty Griffin, Buddy Miller, Byron House and Marco Giovino, will embark on a series of tour dates this summer. An album featuring this line-up will be released later this year on Rounder Records.

How about that for a lineup. Can't wait for the Album. If you have heard his latest release A crooked Road you know why he is part of this all-star lineup.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Donna Ulisse to be featured on Sirius XM

Bluegrass singer Donna Ulisse is the featured artist this week on the Sirius XM show Track by Track hosted by Kyle Cantrell on the Bluegrass Junction channel. Ulisse will be chatting about her current release “Holy Waters”, a bluegrass gospel collection of thirteen songs of which she wrote or co-wrote twelve. Ulisse has often referred to the recording as her own “soul journey”.

There are two remaining dates to catch her. I am apologetically late on this news.
Sunday, July 25, 2010 /11 :00 a.m. eastern time

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 /midnight eastern time.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Twistable Turnable Man - Shel Silverstein Tribute

I must admit that I am sick of tribute albums. There is noone left it seems that hasn't had a tribute album done in there name. In fact, I am waiting for a tribute album to tribute albums. Better yet, I would love to see a tribute album to a band that hasn't even formed yet. Conceptually, every possible interpretation to pay tribute to an artists's work has been done.

Now that the above sermon is over it is time to be a hypocrite. Conceptually, Twistable Turnable Man is notthing original. However, it was done by Bobby Bare Jr. who knew and loved Silverstein well. More so, the freindhip between his father and Silverstein goes back to the early 60's. It is this generational perspective of Silverstein's songwriting that makes this album work. Both old and new artists contribute to the album. Further, if anyone is deserving of homage it is Shel Silverstein. He was a songwriter, cartoonist and poet for Playboy and paradoxically a noted writer of Children's books.

Who better than icons like Ray Price, Kris Kristofferson and John Prine could be included on this album. In fact, Price has recorded Silverstien's songs a couple of times in his career. Noone collaborated with hime like Bobby Bare, and his version of the "The Living Legend" may be the best song of the entire project.

Now we move from the legendary to the more current younger artists. Bobby Bare Jr. made some good choices for this group. after all a Country record is not a Country record without My Morning Jacket (WTF)!  Actually, they have a heavy roots music influence and their opener "Lullabies, Legends and Lies" competes with Bobby Bare for the best song on the album. However, songs by Andrew Bird, Dr. Dog, Sarah Jarosz and Black Francis provide interpretations that make the songs take on a new life. In between the new and the old are contributions by Lucinda Williams and Nanci Griffith. The campy song "Boy Named Sue" originally recorded by Johnny Cash, could only have been recorded by one contemporary artist. Bare Jr. knew this and chose Todd Snider. Snider does a version of the song that would make the Man in Black himself proud.

For more on Silverstein see the source of all knowledge: Wikipedia

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Truth and Salvage Co. - Full album stream

Truth $ Salvage company have just released their debut album, produced by Chris Robinson of Black Crowes. Their influences are obvious, but they are combined in a way that preserves originality. You will find Classic Rock and Roll, Southern Rock and Outlaw Country. They have four singers who contribute. 

RIYL if you like Band of Heathens

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Susan Cowsill - Lighthouse

From the beginning track "Dragonfly," Susan Cowsill recalls days when she was a kid and youth was full of hope. This uptempo rock song sets a positive mood for the album. Cowsill seems to have recaptures the innocence of youth on lighthouse. The irony of all of this, is the fact her life has recently been full of tragedy. First the New Orleans native was dispersed by Katrina. Then her two brothers and former musical partners Bill and Barry Cowsill died. 

You have to wonder what has driven her to emerge from such a situation with so much hope. When she sings, "I never break but I bend and I'm gonna live it to the sweet bitter end" you can feel she means in the music. On lighthouse her hope is fueled by a strong will and determination. She is not buying into naive hope, but it is a real hope rebirthed from tragedy. Instead of turning bitter she is ready to put the top down on the convertible and drive into the future.

The sounds of this album hearken back to her days in the Continental Drifters. Fans who have missed the Continental Drifters like I have will definitely want to add this to their collection. 

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mary Gauthier - The Foundling

Mary Gauthier has a new album The Foundling. I don't normally recommend albums this dark. It is painful to listen to at times. However, being orphaned and spending years looking for your birth mother is also painful.

This autobiographical project comes from the heart. I also hope it was a healing process for Gauthier. This is not music you will hear at a Tony Robbins seminar. It is just a real story about real hurt that goes on everyday all over the country. Maybe this can help us not to insulate ourselves. Maybe that is part of us that Gauthier wants to reach.


Friday, April 30, 2010

Alejandro Escovedo - Street Songs of Love.

Alejandro Escovedo will be releasing Street Songs of  Love on June 29th, which is the day after my birthday. I think he planned it that way. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it. What better birthday present is there than a new Alejandro release. There are no secrets here. It is pretty obvious what the songs are about, but as would be expected Escovedo takes an unconventional approach to the subject. Sometimes the approach is poignant and sometimes alarming but it is done Alejandro style. This record has at its' core R&B undertones yet still gets edgy and showcases his punk roots at times.

Do you like guests? Is Bruce Springsteen big enough for you? The "Boss" contributes vocals on "Faith" one of the more edgy songs on the album. His primary songwriting partner is Friend and cohort Chuck Prophet, who co-wrote about half of the songs on Street Songs of Love. As you would expect the arrangements are crisp. In short, the loyal cult like fans of Alejandro will love this one.

Check out a live cut:

Friday, April 23, 2010

Video : Willie Nelson - Man with the Blues

From the just released album Country Music.
Produced by T-Bone Burnett


Friday, April 16, 2010

Crooked Still / Infamous Stringdusters

Two of the best young Newgrass groups have new albums.

Crooked Still - will release Some Strange Country on May 18th on Signature Sounds. They are certainly a genre bending groups always, but they rise to a new level on this. The album is beautifully arranged,lyrically infused with both spiritual and earthly wisdom, and as always the musicianship demands accolades. Heavyweights Tim O'brien and Ricky Skaggs lend a hand. In fact, "I'm Troubled" which features O'brien may be the best track. Crooked Still is no longer emerging. With the release of Some Strange Country hey have arrived.

The infamous Stringdusters - Will release Things that Fly on Tuesday. On this release they move even more toward the progressive side of the Bluegrass spectrum. The breadth of their musical palate is increasing. With this release they have created a masterpiece. Check out the EPK below.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Jason and the Scorchers - Halcyon Days

For all of you youngsters out there who love the history of alt-country, the first fact to know is that Uncle Tupelo started it all. Wrong Answer!!!! Before there was something called alt-country, there were many in the field. Rank & File (an early Alejandro Escovedo project), X was heavily roots influenced, The Blasters just to name a few. However, in my mind (which was clouded with Beer during this period)there is one band who created what later became alt-country. At the time it was referred to as Cow-Punk. Who cares what it was called then or now, Jason & the Scorchers fused Country with Rock in a way nobody had before. Jason was the panache and the voice and Warner Hodges raging guitar licks were the soul. Everyone who came to see them had kickin' party they could almost remember. The energy in a Scorchers show could power a third world country.

My life changed in 1984 when I first heard Lost and Found. They dominated the college bar scene of the 80s. They began to grow in popularity and even played with Dylan. However, label troubles, sickness and rehab (the big three for all rock bands)eventually put them on hiatus. However, with the success of the alt-country sound, which they basically created, they came back with an excellent album A Blazing Grace in 1993.

Fast forward to 2010, two years after receiving a lifetime achievement award from the AMA, they release Halcyon Days. It is their first new release in almost 15 years. Guess what folks? They've still got it. It is a more mature sound but still has everything you would expect of the Scorchers. So go out and get yourself a history lesson. It appears they intend to finish what they started.

Here's one from 1984

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Patty Griffin - Downtown Church

Patty Griffin has just released her new album Downtown Church. The album was brilliantly produced by Buddy Miller and has an excellent supporting cast. On this album Griffin captures the soul of the traditional African-American Church, as well as the beauty of more traditional hymns. The mix of songs on this album capture a spirit of forgiveness that is truly the central message of Christianity. These songs don't have anything to do with the exclusive legalism of the mainstream American Church. Instead there is a soothing redemption given.

I don't care what your affiliation, songs like "little Fire," which features Emmylou Harris, will warm you deep in your soul (even if you don't believe in one). She reinterprets classic Gospel songs and hymns like "Tear This Building Down" and "All Creatures of Our God and King." Buddy and Julie Miller both join her on this project. On "Never Grow Old" Buddy's voice adds an authentic roughness to complement the softness of Griffin's voice. Downtown Church offers no condemnation, just beauty, soul and hope.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Austin Collins - Wrong Control

Austin Collins is an artist on the rise. His previous release Roses are Black received a lot of critical praise. With the release of Wrong Control on March 2nd, music fans will no doubt take notice. Along with his band the Rainbirds, Collins is delivering a more rocking twist to accompany his excellent songwriting.

The album begins with the broken love of "Just the Same." On this song Collins declares "A rose by any other name is just a flower in the rain. She was born to hold your dreams back by strain." On the title cut we get a glimpse of what he feels gets in the way of Love's happiness, "you always said that choice was a device in a disguise. Place you bets and leave because the heartache's in the details." It seems we can reinvent what is good about a relationship into something entirely different. Then there is "The Island," which uses seemingly incongruent metaphors to bring it all together in a hopeful way.

All of these conceptual twists and turns have an underlying edgy beat that moves them along. The groove is consistent among the songs, but it is not monotonous. There is an undertone to the music that makes it one of those albums you can play over and over again. Give it a try. I bet you'll listen more than once.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Elliot Randall & The Deadmen - Caffeine and Gasoline

Elliot Randall, along with his band The Deadmen, has released his sophomore album Caffeine and Gasoline. It is a decidedly more Country affair than his previous effort. What hasn’t changed is the depth of the songwriting. A full band, The Deadmen, have a lot to do with the diversity of styles. However, the main influence is producer David Simon-Baker, who has worked with Jackie Greene and The Mother Hips. There is a blend of Country, Rock and troubadour songwriting that reflect Randall’s influences and South Carolina upbringing. He may be based in San Francisco but his influences range from coast to coast. Common themes are love on the mend and love gone wrong.

The way Randall pours out the soul of his protagonists is a manner exhibited by more seasoned songwriters. Randall will no doubt go from a popular regional Northern California artist to a true touring songwriter. He has recently opened for Junior Brown, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Hayes Carll and The Steve Miller Band. The diversity of this album should firmly establish him in the Americana landscape. There is no sophomore slump. In fact, it appears there are even better things to come.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Beautiful Loser Society - The Long Slow decline

Following up their brilliant effort Aim Low, The Beautiful Loser Society delivers a somewhat lighter effort. Don't get me wrong the album is haunted by a similar cast of characters as the previous release. They even take you on a highway ride with Lucifer. That's right ol' scratch himself is on "Highway 666 South." Also on "The long slow decline 'Elvis is in the building.' The song is "Elvis, The King," which captures the King in his young cool style as well as sequined jumpsuit Elvis.

As I said, much of the characters are unchanged. Like the Honky Tonk anthem "Shade Tree Mechanic" (which could easily be about a particular uncle of mine), "Rich folks spend their time countin' money and the poor spend their time gettin' drunk. Whose to say what is worse what's a blessing what's a curse but old Billy is just shit out of luck." A dark character on the album is the "Suicide Trucker." One touching romantic ballad shows the beauty of the one relationship you can count on in "Good 'ol Dog." "Hot Rod Daddy" combines guitar work that could be mistaken for Dick Dale with a Rockabilly back beat.

Straight from Colorado to your ears "The Beautiful Loser Society" is a social club I want to join. The initiation fee is only a 12 pack and the will to drink it. Long Slow Decline is a more Country affair than its predecessor. So put the sawdust on the floor. I'm ready to go.


Monday, January 11, 2010

January 12 - Release Highlights

While not a complete list here a a couple of releases I am excited about:

Ray Wylie Hubbard - A. Enlightenment, B. Endarkment (Hint: There Is No C) (Bordello) Here is an excerpt from the press release. (I'm sure it will be the dark but entertaining effprt we expet from him.)

Ray Wylie Hubbard will release A. Enlightenment B. Endarkenment (Hint: There is no C) on January 12, 2010 on Bordello Records with marketing and distribution provided by Thirty Tigers/RED. The album was produced by Hubbard with help from George Reiff. With a keen eye for observation and a wise man's knowledge, Ray Wylie Hubbard composes and performs a dozen songs that couldn't spring from anywhere else but out of his fertile rock and roll bluesy poet-in-the-blistering-heat southern noggin. "I like to look at both enlightenment and endarkenment," he declares. "I feel comfortable observing each." A. Enlightenment
B. Endarkenment demonstrates the kind of talent that every great songwriter yearns for. Throughout the album, his focus remains on the song- constructing and performing stories set to music that resonate in a way that is completely his own.

Vampire Weekend - Contra - The best new indie band of 2008. This should have the quirkiness and understated World Music influences fo there previous release.


Monday, January 4, 2010

The Top Two

Though I put Band of Heathens number one, it was really a tie with Buddy andf Julie Miller. The tiebreaker was the addiction to BOH I developed this year. It was my heaviest rotation. The different styles nd tempo made it fresh no matter how much I listened to it.

Buddy and Julie put out an emotional portrait of simpler times and the pain of true love. It's power and outstanding songwriting are undenible. More importantly the arrangement and intrumentation of eac song underscore the emotion of the lyrics.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

No. & M. Ward Hold Time

Since numbers 3-7 on my best of list have been covered previously, I am going to forgo posting on them. However, number 7, M. Ward - Hold Time, did not get the coverage it deserved here on AWT, even though it is high on my list. The album is simultaneously, Folk, Indie and Americana. The sound is wispy but not too ethereal. Just listen to the duet with Lucinda Williams, which is a cover of Hank Williams "Oh Lonesome Me." He captures all the pain of the original but makes it uniquely his own. The album is permeated with passion and exhibits clever lyricism.

Check out this ACL performance