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Sunday, September 14, 2014

featuring the very best of americana, and roots music
September 13, 2014
Scott Foley

A couple years ago, Sons of Bill garnered some prime R&B attention with their Sirens release.  Even further back (remember 2009?), the Virginia band’s “Broken Bottles” landed near the top of my yearly countdown of favorite songs.  Fronted by the titular Wilson brothers, Sons of Bill has evolved over the years from Reckless Kelly-esque red dirt roots rockers to a smart, contemporary Americana act that could be comfortable in both bars and arenas.  SOB have traditionally had great luck with their producers, tagging both Jim Scott and David Lowery for previous albums, and that streak continues here.  As producer, former Uncle Tupelo/Wilco drummer Ken Coomer ably eases this transition on the band’s mature and relevant new Love and Logic release.  Whereas early Sons songs rarely made it out of the roadhouse, there’s a real life existential element to these new tunes.  Still firmly rooted in Southern tradition, they’ve chosen to leave the bars ‘n broads stereotypes to less capable bands.  Once Southern boys they all loved RE Lee / Once Southern girls loved REM / Were they all in confederacy against you / Or were you just like them”.  Even more traditional faire like the bucolic “Fishing Song” makes less obvious choices:  I want to go fishing. I want to feel the sunshine / And I want Heaven and Hell to disappear as I cast a line”.  Thoughtfulness and adult uncertainty dictate the spirit of Love and Logic.   There’s no romantic, Springsteen-like “Santa Ana Winds” driven by youthful optimism.  Instead, “Hymnsong” gives us, “We're convinced that there's a cadence to the murmurs in the dark / Rapt in patient arbitration between our weary head and heart”.  While some bands never escape the stereotype and others try hard to become something they’re not, Sons of Bill find great success in exploring the boundaries of who they are.  

Also on this Episode, Ronnie Fauss bravely and ably covers on of my favorite songs of the decade.   Lucinda further cements my assertion that this year marks the return of soul to americana, and I entertain the dawning realization that Lee Ann Womack's new covers record is way more than just a grasping for attention by an expired mainstream country artist. 

*  Lambchop, "Sharing a Gibson With Martin Luther King Jr."  OH (Ohio)  (Merge, 08)
*  Yawpers, "Rock Bottom"  Capon Crusade  (Self, 2012)  C
*  Reed Foehl, "Rodeo Clown"  Lost In the West  (NeverFoehl, 14)  C
*  Puss N Boots, "Jesus, Etc"  No Fools No Fun  (Blue Note, 14)
*  Steelism, "Marfa Lights"  915 To Fame  (Single Lock, 14)
*  Robert Earl Keen, "Shades of Gray"  Picnic  (Sugar Hill, 97)
*  Sid Griffin, "Elvis Presley Calls His Mother After the Ed Sullivan Show"  Trick Is To Breathe  (Prima, 14)  D
*  Lee Ann Womack, "All His Saints"  Way I'm Livin'  (Sugar Hill, 14)
*  Marty Stuart w/Mavis Staples, "Uncloudy Day"  Saturday Night / Sunday Morning  (Superlatone, 14)  D
*  Nikki Lane, "Seein' Double"  All Or Nothin'  (New West, 14)
*  Hard Pans, "What's Coming"  Budget Cuts  (High Plains Film, 14)
*  Gourds, "Moon Gone Down"  Noble Creatures  (Yep Roc, 07)
*  Psycho Sisters, "Fun To Lie"  Up On the Chair Beatrice  (Rockbeat, 14)  D
*  Arliss Nancy, "Saint Forgot"  Simple Machines  (Suburban Home, 12)  C
*  Lucinda Williams, "Stand Right By Each Other"  Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone  (Hwy 20, 14)
*  Shakey Graves, "Big Time Nashville Star"  And the War Came  (Dualtone, 14)
*  Los Straitjackets w/Deke Dickerson, "Honky Tonk"  Sings the Instrumental Hits  (Yep Roc, 14)  D
*  Untamed Youth, "Angel Face"  Untamed Melodies  (Norton, 96)
*  Luke Winslow-King, "Cadillac Slim"  Everlasting Arms  (Bloodshot, 14)
*  Larkin Poe, "Crown of Fire"  KIN  (RH, 14)  D
*  Israel Nash, "Myer Canyon"  Israel Nash's Rain Plains  (Loose, 14)
*  Hard Working Americans, "Play a Train Song (live)"  First Waltz  (Melvin, 14)
*  Ronnie Fauss, "Song For Zula"  Built To Break  (New West, 14)  D
*  Lydia Loveless, "Bad Way To Go"  Indestructible Machine  (Bloodshot, 11)
*  Pieta Brown, "Before Gas & TV"  Paradise Outlaw  (Red House, 14)
^  Sons of Bill, "Arms of the Landslide"  Love & Logic  (Thirty Tigers, 14)
*  Otis Gibbs, "No Rust On My Spade"  Souvenirs of a Misspent Youth  (Wanamaker, 14)

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