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Sunday, October 19, 2014


ROUTES & BRANCHES     
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country and roots music
October 18, 2014
Scott Foley

The first promo I ever recorded for Routes & Branches when it was reborn at KRFC featured a rollicking backing track from Elliott BROOD's "Valley Town" - I still get remarks from listeners about the cut's infectious mandolin.  The trio from Ontario are all growed up now, busy generating offspring, contemplating mortality and making radio friendly music on their fifth LP, Work and Love.  It's true that "We should all stay little ones" doesn't exactly put the "alt" in alt.country, but by the close of the first track, the heavy guitars and horns set the tone for a fuller, more mature sounding album addressing "the ends of relationships and the tests of adulthood."  As a card-carrying adult, I have been to the little bar sited "where everybody knows who everybody is. / They drink and raise each others' kids" (because it truly does take a village ...).  To be fair, only a couple tunes directly address the blessings of Snuggies and a childproofed home.  The angst that drives "Nothing Left" ("These late night calls don't do anybody good") probably isn't addressing midnight feedings.  Musically, songs like "Tired" still feature the band's alluring vocal buzz, and while the equation is steadily tipping more towards rock than roots, their trademark mando/banjo strums continue to shine through.  It's those extras that tend to lift Work and Love above your average Elliott BROOD record:  The electric guitar/piano/drum crescendo that drives "Taken", or the unexpected trumpet heralding pieces like "Mission Bell", the most band oriented sound on the record.  Fans of the trio's earlier work will welcome the catchy-as-hell single, "Jigsaw Heart", which recalls the mando-centric strumming and suitcase drums of an earlier time.  File this one alongside other bands like Sons of Bill or Delta Spirit, rare artists who have answered a call to allow their sound to grow, evolve and mature over the years.  The bonus 5-song acoustic sampler will serve to appease those remaining traditionalists who still pine for "that house by the hill / How I long for her still / My home sweet home."

*  Tony Joe White, "Saturday Night In Oak Grove, Louisiana"  Homemade Ice Cream  (Warner, 73)
*  Dave and Phil Alvin, "Southern Flood Blues"  Common Ground  (Yep Roc, 14)
*  Cory Branan, "Meantime Blues"  No Hit Wonder  (Bloodshot, 14)
*  Hollis Brown, "Wait For Me Virginia"  single  (Alive NaturalSound, 14)  D
*  Shelby Lynne, "Thought It Would Be Easier"  I Am Shelby Lynne (remaster)  (Rounder, 14)
*  David Childers, "Jesus Gonna Make It Alright"  Serpents of Reformation  (Ramseur, 14)
*  Hard Working Americans, "Stomp & Holler (live)"  First Waltz  (Melvin, 14)
*  Slim Cessna's Auto Club, "Fifteen Years"  Slim Cessna's Auto Club  (Self, 95)  C
*  Lee Ann Womack, "All His Saints"  Way I'm Livin'  (Sugar Hill, 14)
*  JP Harris & Tough Choices, "Young Women & Old Guitars"  Home Is Where the Hurt Is  (Cow Island, 14)
*  Reckless Kelly, "Everything I Could Do Wrong"  Somewhere In Time  (Blue Rose, 10)
*  Sons of Bill, "Big Unknown"  Love & Logic  (Thirty Tigers, 14)
*  Chuck Ragan, "Bedroll Lullaby"  Till Midnight  (SideOneDummy, 14)
*  Ronnie Fauss, "Never Gonna Last"  Built to Break  (Normaltown, 14)
*  Kelly Pardekooper, "Tell Me (You're the One)"  Milk in Sunshine  (Leisure Time, 14)  D
*  Shakey Graves, "Pansy Waltz"  And the War Came  (Dualtone, 14)
*  Angaleena Presley, "Pain Pills"  American Middle Class  (Thirty Tigers, 14)
*  Old 97s, "Dancing With Tears"  Hitchhike To Rhome  (Big Iron, 94)
^  Elliott BROOD, "Mission Bell"  Work & Love  (Paper Bag, 14)
*  NQ Arbuckle, "Red Wine"  Future Happens Anyway  (Six Shooter, 14)
*  Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires, "Born In the USA"  Dead Man's Town  (Lightning Rod, 14)
*  Eliot Bronson, "Baltimore"  Eliot Bronson  (Saturn 5, 14)
*  Reed Foehl, "Four Lanes"  Lost in the West  (NeverFoehl, 14)  C
*  Laura Cantrell, "Barely Said a Thing"  No Where There From Here  (Thrift Shop, 14)
*  Secret Sisters, "Rattle My Bones"  Put Your Needle Down  (Republic, 14)
*  JD McPherson, "I Wish You Would"  Warm Covers EP  (Rounder, 14)
*  Patty Griffin, "Moses"  Living With Ghosts  (A&M, 96)
*  Trampled By Turtles, "Hollow"  Wild Animals  (Banjodad, 14)

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