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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

ROUTES & BRANCHES   
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country and roots music
April 13, 2013
Scott Foley

This week's Episode features new stuff from a pair of americana's most seasoned singer-songwriters, in the persons of Kim Richey and Patty GriffinFor her first album of originals since 2007, Griffin migrated to record in Memphis.  There, in addition to learned mandolin, she wrote what she describes as her first real "americana" record.  While she's done country before, as well as folk, gospel and some sort of edgy pop hybrid, she's never fully embraced the genre that most fully embraces her work.  Almost 20 years since her debut proved a revelatory musical moment for many of us, Griffin's voice remains a transcendent instrument.  Fronting a primarily acoustic band allow this voice to further showcase, revealing its cracks and its age in a new and glorious light.  Much of the album actually compliments her work with Band of Joy, especially with Mr Plant himself showing up on several cuts.  

I've often considered Kim Richey as standing for what Mary Chapin Carpenter might've become if she hadn't taken a precipitous turn towards tame, folk-oriented fare.  Both achieved some degree of success in mainstream country circles early in their career, and both are excellent writers.  Seven albums into her run, however, Richey continues to show an edge where MCC has largely abandoned her own.  Thorn in My Heart is produced by Neilson Hubbard, who has seemingly never met an album he didn't want to quiet down.  That said, his work tends to be so carefully, lovingly polished that it's hard to complain.  Richey is also joined by Trisha Yearwood, Jason Isbell and Will Kimbrough, as well as folks from My Morning Jacket and Wilco.  I remain a strong fan of 2010's Wreck Your Wheels, which boasted some of the strongest writing in Richey's career.  Time will tell if Thorn achieves a similar impact.  
 

*  Thom Chacon, "Big River"  Thom Chacon  (Self, 13)  C
*  Truckstop Darlin', "Sad Sweet Songs"  Hope and the Heart it Breaks  (Self, 12)
*  Shelby Lynne, "It Ain't Easy"  Unsung Hero: Tribute to Ron Davies  (Little Chickadee, 13)
*  Todd Snider, "Thin Wild Mercury"  Devil You Know  (New Door, 06)
*  Shinyribs, "Take Me Lake Charles"  Gulf Coast Museum  (Nine Mile, 13)
*  Lori McKenna, "Better With Time"  Massachusetts  (Self, 13)
*  Farmington Hill, "This Might Take Time"  Bridge to Nowhere  (Self, 13)  C
*  Kill County, "Maggie"  Dust In Wire  (Self, 13)
*  Lindi Ortega, "Jimmy Dean"  Little Red Boots  (Last Gang, 11)
*  Sturgill Simpson, "Time After All"  High Top Mountain  (Thirty Tigers, 13)
*  Slim Cessna's Auto Club, "32 Mouths Gone Dry" Blovdy Tenant Trvth Peace  (Alt. Tentacles, 04)  C
*  Shovels & Rope, "Bad As Me"  Johnny 99/Bad As Me single  (Third Man, 13)
^  Patty Griffin, "Don't Let Me Die In Florida"  American Kid  (New West, 13)
*  Luke Winslow-King, "Coming Tide"  Coming Tide  (Bloodshot, 13)   D
*  Bow Thayer, "12 Inch SteelEden  (Tweed River, 13)
*  Hiss Golden Messenger, "Sweet As John Hurt"  Haw  (Paradise of Bachelors, 13)   D
*  Michael Dean Damron, "Broken BottlePlea From a Ghost  (Suburban Home, 11)
*  Ryan Chrys, "Stand and Be Counted"  Lick & a Promise  (Self, 13)  C
*  Steve Earle, "21st Century Blues"  Low Highway  (New West, 13)
*  Lydia Loveless, "Steve Earle"  Indestructible Machine  (Bloodshot, 11)
*  Yvette Landry, "What In the Hell They Did Back Then"  No Man's Land  (Self, 13)  D
^  Kim Richey, "Breakaway Speed"  Thorn In My Heart  (Yep Roc, 13)   D
*  Split Lip Rayfield, "Hobo Love Song"  I'll Be Around  (Self, 08)
*  Thief River, "Southern Comfort"  Southbound To Nowhere  (Self, 13)  C
*  Donkeys, "O! Grace"  Weary Engine Blues  (Graveface, 13)  D
*  Lizzie Huffman, "Columbus"  single  (Self, 13)   C, D
*  Jonny Fritz, "Ain't Your Birthday"  Dad Country  (ATO, 13)  D
*  Casey Donahew Band, "Whiskey Baby"  Standoff  (Self, 13)   D
                

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