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Saturday, March 19, 2016


ROUTES & BRANCHES
a home for the americana diaspora
March 12, 2016
Scott Foley

On this blog I've frequently referenced my appetite for loose, reckless music.  There's nothing like the rush of being taken for a violent ride and barely holding on.  That said, I also have a soft space in my musical heart for the well maintained, polished and produced vehicle of bands like Reckless Kelly, Sons of Bill or Left Arm Tan.  No need to worry, there's dust aplenty on that Fort Worth quintet's sprawling 18-song opus Lorene.  It's in the bass of "Gonna Find Me a Rock" or the electric guitar that tears into the relatively restrained "Brass On Burgundy".  Otherwise, Lorene is a lovingly polished jewel, or maybe a whole treasure chest of them.  Produced by frequent Old 97s helmsman Salim Nourallah, there is such a precision and separation to the recording, a painstaking professionalism that's rare for a young band.  The opener, "Gonna Find Me a Rock", is a relentlessly good natured ramble, propelled by an unflagging optimism and an earworm chorus. "Break Even" is Left Arm Tan's strongest story song on Lorene, a family table set for a father who hasn't returned from war.  It's the strain of heartland roots rock that might've garnered radio play for an artist who knows people. 97s' guitar man Ken Bethea joins a tongue-in-cheek "Freedom Bus", sharing the mic with fellow Texan Walt Wilkins.  A tune that at first blush seems a rousing call to inclusion reveals upon closer listen a biting sarcasm and social commentary: "Freedom bus / O freedom bus / Spread your glory on all of us / But mainly me".  Across the palette of 18 songs, Lorene generously paints the musical corners with choruses that hook the ear and careful arrangements that range from tastefully restrained americana to all out roots rock anthems.  From the chiming pedal steel of "Blacktop Blues" to the straightforward melodic rock of "Daylight Redemption", Left Arm Tan offers mature blue collar Texas country at its finest

While there are no new tracks to be had, I think the universe is a better place with the announcement of Bees and Seas: the Best of Slobberbone.  Sure, their four records sit on my basement shelves, but this gives me the excuse to revisit the brilliance of "Whiskey Glass Eye", "Little Drunk Fists", "Lumberlung' and "Trust Jesus".  Such an essential document following the thread from early alt.country to today's americana singer-songwriters.

Also this Episode, at 83 years old Loretta Lynn is in such great voice on Full Circle, the first in what promises to be a series of releases with John Carter Cash providing the Rick Rubin to Loretta's Johnny Cash.  And we enjoy a promising new cut from Margo Price's forthcoming CD - and it's no accident that I played these tracks back-to-back.

- Wilco, "One Sunday Morning (live)" single  (Dbpm, 12)
- Blasters, "Just Another Sunday" Hard Line  (Slash, 85)
- Sarah Borges, "Tendency to Riot" Good and Dirty  (Dry Lightning, 16)
- Waco Brothers, "Going Down In History" Going Down In History  (Bloodshot, 16)
- Greyhounds, "Devil's Eyes" Change of Pace  (Ardent, 16)
- Mavis Staples, "Don't Cry" Livin' On a High Note  (Anti, 16)
- M Ward, "Slow Driving Man" More Rain  (Merge, 16)
- Sturgill Simpson, "Brace For Impact (Live a Little)" Sailor's Guide to Earth  (Atlantic, 16)
- Chris Pureka, "Back in the Ring" Back in the Ring  (Sad Rabbit, 16)
- White Buffalo, "Modern Times" Love & the Death of Damnation  (Unison, 15)
- Roosevelts, "Peaches" Greatest Thing You'll Ever Learn  (Roosevelts, 16)
- Case/lang/Veirs, "Atomic Number" Case/lang/Veirs  (Anti, 16)
- Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, "Georgia" Something Real  (Royal Potato Family, 16)
- Parker Millsap, "Heaven Sent" Very Last Day  (Thirty Tigers, 16)
- Loretta Lynn, "Wine Into Water" Full Circle  (Sony, 16)
- Margo Price, "Hands of Time" Midwest Farmer's Daughter  (Third Man, 16)
- Hayes Carll, "Magic Kid" Lovers & Leavers  (Thirty Tigers, 16)
- Al Scorch, "Everybody Out" Circle Round the Signs  (Bloodshot, 16)  D
- Wrinkle Neck Mules, "Central Daylight Time" Apprentice to Ghosts  (Lower 40, 12)
- Slobberbone, "Little Drunk Fists" Bees and Seas: Best of Slobberbone  (New West, 16)  D
- John Doe, "Go Baby Go" The Westerner  (Cool Rock, 16)
- Mary Chapin Carpenter, "Something Tamed Something Wild" Things That We Are Made Of  (Thirty Tigers, 16)
- Chuck Ragan, "What We Leave Behind" Flame in the Flood  (Ten Four, 16)
- Robbie Fulks, "Sweet As Sweet Comes" Upland Stories  (Bloodshot, 16)
^ Left Arm Tan, "Take Me Out" Lorene  (LAT, 16)
- Split Lip Rayfield, "Hundred Dollar Bill" Should Have Seen It Coming  (Bloodshot, 04)
- Caleb Caudle, "Carolina Ghost" Caroline Ghost  (This is American Music, 16)

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