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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

featuring the very best of americana, and roots music
April 11, 2015
Scott Foley

Porter is Chris Porter, who you might (or might not) know from such previous projects as Back Row Baptists, Some Dark Holler or Chris Porter & the Pollies.  A connection with fellow artist (and past R&B guest) Bonnie Whitmore lured him from his Alabama home to Austin where Porter launched a crowd funded campaign to finance the creation of what would become This Red Mountain, his first true solo record.  I would argue that you can tell enough about an artist by the company he keeps, and my musical curiosity was piqued when I came across news of Porter joining for some recent dates on John Moreland's tour.  What's more, Ms Whitmore introduced sis Eleanor Whitmore and bro-in-law Chris Masterson (of the Mastersons), who provide musical support throughout the LP.  The clincher which drove me to track down a copy of Porter's work was Will Johnson's involvement as producer. After that, it was all about the music. 

This Red Mountain is a subtle stunner, a record that I place alongside Ryan Culwell's earlier Flatlands as among the year's best.  While the aforementioned musicianship is top notch, it's Porter's remarkable ability as a writer that lifts these songs to a rarified height. 

Here's to the god of second chances / Handin' out girls with black rimmed glasses / Bringing my ass to Texas / To save me from my own. / And here's to the myth of man's redemption / Every other time I stood there wishin' / She would do the leavin' so I could put it in a song 
The title cut adds piano to the music mix, with a floating cloud of pedal steel casting its shadow upon the session.  "Hardest Healin'" features the great Jon Dee Graham on steel, along with some moving backing harmonies and Eleanor Whitmore's fiddle.  It's the rare contemporary song that wouldn't have been out of place in a Civil War diary:  "Tell them that I did my best to sing a true and honest song / Dry your eyes on my chest dear / Do not mourn or grieve me long".

Porter's "Angel" is a Townes Van Zandt-esque wristslasher about a girl who goes from finding her father hung to finally coming unhinged in a dead end trailer park, "Throwing bottles at the sky / Just to see how far they'd fly".  My current favorite track on This Red Mountain is "Harder Stuff" which is evocative of Cheryl Wheeler's gorgeous "Arrow" (about which I could write a book).  Whitmore's fiddle again speaks directly to the heart, behind Porter's mumbled drawl and a sudden rush of distorted electric guitar.

Once the proverbial needle hits the end of the record, the pure goodness of Chris Porter's This Red Mountain is difficult to pinpoint.  The man can turn a phrase as well as other young writers like Parker Millsap or John Fullbright, and his down and out portraits can sometimes even bring to mind that Van Zandt fellow for their bleak honesty.  

Next Episode, we'll be joined in studio by Tarnation's Andy D, and we'll be asking for your money.  KRFC's Spring 2015 Membership Drive will run for only 7 days (Sat thru Fri), so you'll have just one chance to make me feel all warm and valued.  And why would you pass up that opportunity?

*  Sturgill Simpson, "the Promise"  Metamodern Sounds in Country Music  (High Top Mt, 14)
*  Ray Wylie Hubbard, "Hey Mama My Time Ain't Long"  Ruffian's Misfortune  (Bordello, 15)
*  Dwight Yoakam, "Liar"  Second Hand Heart  (Reprise, 15)
*  Boxmasters, "Sometimes There's a Reason"  Somewhere Down the Road  (101 Ranch, 15)
*  Houndmouth, "Gasoline"  Little Neon Limelight  (Rough Trade, 15)
*  Banditos, "Still Sober (After All These Beers)"  Banditos  (Bloodshot, 15)
*  Felice Brothers, "Love Me Tenderly"  Felice Brothers  (Team Love, 08)
*  Caleb Caudle, "Another Night"  Paint Another Layer On My Heart  (This Is Amer Music, 14)
*  John Moreland, "You Don't Care For Me Enough To Cry"  High On Tulsa Heat  (Old Omens, 15)
*  Eilen Jewell, "My Hometown"  Sundown Over Ghost Town  (Signature Sounds, 15)  D
*  Charlie Parr, "Temperence River Blues"  Stumpjumper  (Red House, 15)
*  Hiss Golden Messenger, "Blue Country Mystic"  Poor Moon  (Tompkins Square, 12)
*  Tim Barry, "Lost & Rootless"  Lost & Rootless  (Chunksaah, 14)
*  Whitey Morgan, "Waitin' 'Round To Die"  Sonic Ranch  (Whitey Morgan, 15)  D
*  Heartless Bastards, "Gates of Dawn"  Restless Ones  (Partisan, 15)  D
*  Kasey Anderson, "Like Teenage Gravity"  Let the Bloody Moon Rise  (Kasey Anderson, 12)
*  Rhett Miller, "Most In the Summertime"  The Traveler  (ATO, 15)
*  Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, "Traveling Kind"  Traveling Kind  (Nonesuch, 15)
*  Kenny Knight, "America"  Crossroads  (Paradise of Bachelors, 15)  D, C
*  Jayhawks, "Settled Down Like Rain (live)"  Live At the Belly Up  (Belly Up, 15)  D
*  Great Lake Swimmers, "I Must Have Someone Else's Blues"  A Forest of Arms  (Nettwerk, 15)
*  Staves, "Teeth White"  If I Was  (Atlantic, 15)
*  Brown Bird, "Patiently Awaiting"  Axis Mundi  (Supply & Demand, 15)  D
*  Calexico, "Tapping On the Line"  Edge of the Sun  (Anti, 15)
^  Porter, "This Red Mountain"  This Red Mountain  (Porter, 15)  D
*  Malcolm Holcombe, "Doncha Miss That Water"  RCA Sesssions  (Proper, 15)
*  Caroline Spence, "Whiskey Watered Down"  Somehow  (Caroline Spence, 15)  D
*  Sam Lewis, "Things Will Never Be the Same"  Waiting On You  (Brash, 15)

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