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Monday, October 13, 2014

featuring the very best of americana, and roots music
October 11, 2014
Scott Foley

On any given day, if you go around the 'nets looking at record reviews you'll find at least a dozen bloggers summing up artists by saying, "They're the real deal."  This is a shortcut for, "I really don't know what else to say, but I like what I hear."  The term tends to be lazily applied to dedicated souls like Dale Watson or Wayne Hancock.  Is Nashville's JP Harris "the real deal"?  Who am I to say ... he certainly has an impressive beard, though.  The music from Harris' sophomore record, Home Is Where the Hurt Is, comes across as unpretentious and unadorned as your favorite plaid shirt.  The album kicks open the barn doors with "Give a Little Lovin'," a piece whose galloping rhythms sound so immediately familiar that first I mistook it for a trad country cover.  As we learned on his 2012 debut, I'll Keep Calling, that's Harris' pocket, that classic country stuff that has no patience for any qualifiers.  JP himself has said he doesn't play americana, or folk - it's just country music, plain and simple.  The CD's title track bears that timeless stamp, with his band, the Tough Choices, laying down the pedal steel, guitar, bass and drums, while vocal guests Nikki Lane, Ashley Wilcoxson and Shelly Colvin lay down the "oohs" and "aah" like they were in the shadow of George Jones.  "Maria" could've flown from the songwriting pen of Marty Robbins if the credits didn't bear JP Harris' name.  "Truckstop Amphetamines," however, well that's just pure JP Harris.  The song is my favorite on Home Is Where the Hurt Is, depositing him firmly in the lineage of Guy Clark or Butch Hancock:  "Pass the time counting hours / With warm beer and BC Powders / And emptiness that fills me up just right."  Maybe you can fake this stuff, but so far Harris at least seems to be a dedicated study.  So, I suppose you could say that JP Harris and the Tough Choices are "the real deal," but give the guys some due credit and show your damn work. 

As mentioned on this week's Episode of R&B, we've just about finished setting the proverbial table for a November visit with one of my musical cornerstones.  Alejandro Escovedo's "Castanets" was the very first song I ever played during Routes & Branches, and I've always put him at the top of the list of folks who I'd love to interview.  Mr Escovedo is splitting a bill with Peter Buck, passing thru Fort Collins on November 8 (Hodi's).  If I don't screw this up by coming across like too much of a fanboy, we'll have AE in studio during the 4:00 hour.  Now where did I put that bucket list ...  

*  Felice Brothers, "Wonderful Life"  Felice Brothers  (Team Love, 08)
*  Felice Brothers, "Frankie's Gun!"  Felice Brothers  (Team Love, 08)
*  Ronnie Fauss, "I'm Sorry Baby (That's Just the Way It Goes)"  (Normaltown, 14)
*  Eliot Bronson, "Comin' For Ya North Georgia Blues"  Eliot Bronson  (Saturn, 14)  D
^  JP Harris & Tough Choices, "Truckstop Amphetamines"  Home Is Where the Hurt Is  (Cow Island, 14)
*  Joe Fletcher & Wrong Reasons, "Florence, Alabama"  You've Got the Wrong Man  (Self, 14)
*  Tom Vandenavond w/Larry & His Flask, "Jackrabbit, Arizona"  Endtimes  (Hillgrass Bluebilly, 14)
*  Cary Ann Hearst, "Forsaken Blues"  Lions and Lambs  (Self, 11)
*  6 String Drive, "Drive Around Town"  Roots Rock 'n Roll  (Royal Potato Family, 15)  D
*  Otis Gibbs, "Back In My Day Blues"  Souvenirs of a Misspent Youth  (Wanamaker, 14)
*  Luke Winslow-King, "Crystal Water Springs"  Everlasting Arms  (Bloodshot, 14)
*  Angaleena Presley, "American Middle Class"  American Middle Class  (Thirty Tigers, 14)  D
*  Lucinda Williams, "When I Look At the World"  Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone  (Hwy 20, 14)
*  Elliott BROOD, "Nothing Left"  Work and Love  (Paper Bag, 14)
*  Jayhawks, "Waiting For Salvation"  Rainy Day Music (reissue)  (American, 14)
*  Maggie Bjorklund w/Kurt Wagner, "Fro Fro Heart"  Shaken  (Bloodshot, 14)
*  Kill County, "Broken Glass in the  Sun"  Broken Glass in the Sun  (Self, 14)
*  David Childers, "First Mile"  Serpents of Reformation  (Ramseur, 14)  D
*  Luke Bell, "Glory and the Grace"  Don't Mind If I Do  (Self, 14)  D
*  Bonnie "Prince" Billly, "Night Noises"  Singer's Grave a Sea of Tongues  (Drag City, 14)  D
*  Halden Wofford & Hi-Beams, "Till Night is Through"  Sinners & Saints  (Self, 10)  C
*  Whiskey Shivers, "Long Low Down"  Whiskey Shivers  (Self, 14)
*  Frazey Ford, "You're Not Free"  Indian Ocean  (Nettwerk, 14)
*  Mavis Staples, "Down in Mississippi"  We'll Never Turn Back  (Anti, 07)
*  Delines, "State Line"  Colfax  (El Cortez, 14)
*  Minus 5, "Big Beat Up Moon"  Killingsworth  (Yep Roc, 09)
*  Catherine MacLellan, "Don't Call Me a Stranger"  Raven's Sun  (Self, 14)  D
*  Hearts of Oak, "Goldmine"  New England  (Deer Lodge, 14) 

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