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Sunday, January 12, 2014


ROUTES & BRANCHES
January 4, 2014
Scott Foley

Seems an odd spot to begin praising Doug Paisley's third full-length record (plus a couple EPs), Strong Feelings, nevertheless I am awed at the beauty of 76-year-old Garth Hudson's keyboard work.  The fellow Canadian a mere handful of tracks but adds such grace and soul that his contributions are essential.  An early promotional video shows a wizened and heavily bearded Hudson working absolute magic.  Likewise, the elusive Mary Margaret O'Hara contributes her distinct vocals on three cuts.  This is not intended to downplay Paisley's own contribution.  The Toronto songwriter takes a simple approach to his art, but always proves himself a seemingly effortless melodic master.  This confidently delicate approach is especially effective on "What's Up Is Down", boasting a fresh, first-take naivete from O'Hara, not to mention Hudson tapping away at a Steinway once owned by Glenn Gould.  Both contributors draw deeply from the jazz palette, so perfectly complimenting Paisley's 70's country canvas.  The nod to The Band throughout Strong Feelings is not simply a side effect of Hudson's presence, but more a tribute to Paisley's soulful charisma and the fuller band sound he brings to his new project. 

Also on this Episode, inaugural glimpses into promising 2014 releases from Simone Felice and my 2011 Album of the Year artist, Lydia Loveless.  There's also some fine new work from Robert Ellis and Amy Black, as well as a fitting, snowy track from last year's Bill Callahan gem. 

*  Robert Plant, "Central Two-O-Nine"  Band of Joy  (Rounder, 10)
*  Kristina Murray, "Year Georgia Ran Dry"  Unravelin'   (Self, 14)  C
*  Halden Wofford & the Hi Beams, "White Freightliner Blues"  Rocky Mt Honky Tonk  (Self, 13)  C
*  Bottle Rockets, "Get Down River (1993 Acoustic Radio)"  Bottle Rockets/Broooklyn Side  (Bloodshot, 13)
*  Hard Working Americans, "Mountain Song"  Hard Working Americans  (Melvin, 14)
*  Shelby Lynne, "Walkin'"  Thanks  (Everso, 13)  D
*  Fred Eaglesmith, "Drunk Girl"  Tambourine  (Self, 13)
*  Marshall Chapman, "Rode Hard and Put Up Wet"  Goodbye Little Rock and Roller  (Tall Girl, 03)
*  Lawn Chair Kings, "Last Time I Quit"  Zombies Wake  (Self, 13)  C
*  Reverend Horton Heat, "Let Me Show You How To Eat"  REV  (Victory, 14)  D
*  Blackie & the Rodeo Kings, "Driftin' Snow"  South  (File Under Music, 14)
*  Bill Callahan, "Winter Road"  Dream River  (Drag City, 13)
*  Steve Earle, "21st Century Blues"  Low Highway  (New West, 13)
*  Fifth On the Floor, "Whiskey"  Ashes & Angels  (Self, 13)
*  Lucinda Williams, "Passionate Kisses (live)"  Lucinda Williams (25th Anniversary)  (Self, 14)  D
*  Mosey West, "Mike Overreacting"  Bermuda  (Self, 14)  C
*  Hurray For the Riff Raff, "I Know It's Wrong (But That's Alright)"  Small Town Heroes  (ATO, 14)  D
*  Billy Joe Shaver, "Heart of Texas"  Tramp On Your Street  (Volcano, 93)
*  Robert Ellis, "Sing Along"  Lights From the Chemical Plant  (New West, 14)  D
*  Brandy Clark, "What'll Keep Me Out of Heaven"  12 Songs  (Slate Creek, 13)
*  Rosanne Cash, "When the Master Calls the Roll"  River & the Thread  (Blue Note, 14)
*  Chuck Ragan, "Meet You In the Middle"  Covering Ground  (SideOneDummy, 11)
*  Jim Lauderdale, "When Jones Came Home"  Black Roses  (Sky Crunch, 13)
*  Simone Felice, "Molly O"  Strangers  (Dualtone, 14)  D
*  Lydia Loveless, "To Love Somebody"  Somewhere Else  (Bloodshot, 14)  D
^  Doug Paisley, "Radio Girl"  Strong Feelings  (No Quarter, 14)  D
*  Blake Brown & American Dust Choir, "Thieves"  American Dust Choirs  (Self, 14)  C
*  Brigitte DeMeyer, "This Fix I'm In"  Rose of Jericho  (Self, 11)
*  Amy Black, "Nobody Knows You"  This Is Home  (Reuben, 14)  D

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