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Saturday, September 28, 2013

ROUTES & BRANCHES  
September 21, 2013
Scott Foley

The Americana Honors & Awards ceremony happened last week, and while the results were not exactly revolutionary, it's always a fine presentation.  For me, the awards themselves are just window dressing, compared to the evening's performances.  The fact that Emmylou & Rodney were recognized for album of the year is nice, but how about Dr. John performing with Dan Auerbach, Buddy Miller, Larry Campbell and the McCrary Sisters?  Dwight Yoakam's award for Americana Artist of the Year was well deserved, but when was the last time you saw Duane Eddy perform (or Robert Hunter, or Richie Furay for that matter)?  I have yet to begin the process of narrowing down my own favorites for 2013, though I'm tentatively looking forward to seeing what floats to the top. 

Last year, Lindi Ortega's Cigarettes & Truckstops landed on my 20 favorite albums list.  Less than a year later, Ortega is skewing things harder, darker and deeper on Tin Star.  Where Little Red Boots was sweet, and Cigarettes was edgy, the songs of Tin Star seem to speak from a more genuine place.  Ortega still references her "Little red books and a little black dress," and boasts a bustier and lace veil on her album jacket, but she seems more devoted to telling her story than fitting an image or making a certain impression.  Tin Star follows the storyline of an artist not entirely unlike Ortega herself, migrating from Canada to Nashville and facing the uphill battle for recognition.  Producer/guitarist Dave Cobb was also the man behind the board for Jason Isbell's stellar 2013 release.  Harder tunes like "Voodoo Mama" and "All These Cats" emphasize the rockabilly side of Ortega's musical equation, which has always been somewhat present, though never to this extent.  "Waitin' On My Luck To Change" and "Tin Star," on the other hand, are a couple of the strongest country ballads she has produced, in terms of pure songwriting. 

*  T Hardy Morris, "High Cotton"  High Cotton: Tribute to Alabama  (Lightning Rod, 13)
*  Joe Ely, "Treat Me Like a Saturday Night"  Joe Ely  (MCA, 77)
*  Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, "Invitation To the Blues"  Old Yellow Moon  (Nonesuch, 13)
*  Rayland Baxter, "Bad Things"  ashkeLon  (ATO, 13)
*  Wood Brothers, "Sing About It"  The Muse  (Southern Ground, 13)
*  Shannon McNally, "But I Do"  Small Town Talk  (Sacred Sumac, 13)
*  4H Royalty, "Gas Cap Rag"  Liars & Outliers  (M12, 13) C
*  JD Wilkes & Dirt Daubers, "Apples & Oranges"  Wild Moon  (Plowboy, 13)
*  Elliott BROOD, "Rusty Nail"  Tin Type  (Paper Bag, 13)
*  Shovels & Rope, "Birmingham"  O' Be Joyful  (Dualtone, 12)
*  I See Hawks In LA, "Oklahoma's Going Dry"  Mystery Drug  (Self, 13)
*  Nathaniel Rateliff, "Don't Get Too Close"  Falling Faster Than You Can Run  (Mod y Vi, 13)  C,D
*  Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison, "9,999,999 Tears"  Cheater's Game  (Premium, 13)
^  Lindi Ortega, "Gypsy Child" Tin Star  (Last Gang, 13)
*  Deadwood Saints, "Flood of Nineteen Never"  single  (Self, 13)  C,D
*  Reckless Kelly, "Only Home I've Ever Known"  Long Night Moon  (No Big Deal, 13)
*  Roger Dean Young & Tin Cup, "Keremeos"  Threshold  (Copperspine, 07)
*  Yarn, "Take Me First"  Shine the Light On  (Self, 13)  D
*  Ha Ha Tonka, "American Ambition"  Lessons  (Bloodshot, 13)  D
*  Danny & the Champions of the World, "(Never Stop Building) That Old Space Rocket"  Stay True  (Loose, 13)
*  Zoe Muth & Lost High Rollers, "Such True Love"  Zoe Muth & Lost High Rollers  (Self, 09)
*  Dwight Yoakam, "Long Way To Go"  3 Pears  (Reprise, 12)
*  Yonder Mt String Band, "Don't Worry Happy Birthday"  EP13  (Self, 13)  C,D
*  Shonna Tucker & Eye Candy, "Austin Side"  A Tell All  (Sweet Nectar, 13)
*  Patterson Hood & Young Fresh Fellows, "Hate This Town"  Songs  For Slim  (New West, 13)  D
*  Slim Dunlap, "Ballad of the Opening Band"  Old New Me  (Restless, 93)

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