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Friday, May 13, 2016

a home for the americana diaspora
May 7, 2016
Scott Foley

It's been my experience that some "deluxe" or anniversary reissues are barely concealed attempts at milking money from a dry product.  There will be "remastered" tracks, maybe a couple demos (not as good as the final track) and an outtake or three.  Contrary to this trend, Ryan Adams' 16th anniversary edition of his classic Heartbreaker debut bucks this trend boldly, offering no fewer than 8 (eight) new cuts from the original sessions, as well as some demos and instudio patter (case in point: the version of "Petal in a Rainstorm" I accidentally aired loud and clear, which begins with Adams imploring his cohorts to "beat the shit out of this thing").

I'm having a tough time settling on what to write about for this week's post.  I've been poking around new stuff from Al Scorch, McDougall and Fruit Bats, deciding at various points of the week to spill some digital ink on each of them.  While that still might happen, truth is that the thing that's dictated the direction of my week more than anything has been Arliss Nancy's Greater Divides.  While I tossed together a quick paragraph about the record for last week's post, I'm thinking there's still more to say about it.  I'm thinking the boys from right here in Fort Collins have put together their own version of a "Born To Run" or a "Hollywood Nights".  Even more than on previous gems, the songs here are immediate and heart-on-sleeve sincere.  They are songs about home and away, tough times and better days.  On "Dufresne", Cory Call laments:  The town that we live in, it's got no feeling. I've got no reason to try and make it out alive again.  Sonically, it's the heaviest music they've ever made, with Call choking out words that are almost too big for the music meant to hold them.  It's also Arliss Nancy's most musically deliberate collection, with piano or keyboards ringing behind every track.  Such an evocative sound, it connects the yearning and hope of younger days with the fear and disillusion that we've come to accept as part of who we've become:  I still remember being little boys in the hot Nebraska sun.  Just lighting firecrackers off in an alley, dreaming about the men we'd become ("Brother I Tried").  Much of Greater Divides seems to address the simultaneous draw and disgust of a town that's become too familiar.  There's even some names dropped here and there that will ring a bell with locals:  Maybe we can meet them at the Hi-Dive around seven or eight; a beer and some whiskey for the shaking in your leg  ("Finches").  The light of a possible redemption comes not in escape, but rather in immersion - to quote Robert Frost, "The best way out is always through".  Later in "Finches": If you ever get to thinking about home, that's when you'll see it's been here all along.  Greater Divides is a record that's full of pain and disconnect, but one that refuses to accept the struggle as an end in itself.  It may be awhile until anything else resonates like this one.

- Margo Price, "Hands of Time" Midwest Farmer's Daughter  (Third Man, 16)
- Harvest Thieves, "Upstage on the Front Page" Rival  (Holy Mt Sounds, 16)
- Austin Lucas, "Wrong Side of the Dream" Between the Moon & the Midwest  (Last Chance, 16)
- Ryan Adams, "Petal in a Rainstorm" Heartbreaker (Deluxe)  (PaxAm, 16)
- Possessed by Paul James, "When it Breaks" Feed the Family  (Hillgrass Bluebilly, 10)
- Quaker City Night Hawks, "Beat the Machine" El Astronauta  (Lightning Rod, 16)
- Avett Brothers, "True Sadness" True Sadness  (Republic, 16)
- William Tyler, "Kingdom of Jones" Modern Country  (Merge, 16)   D
- McDougall, "Ten Speed" Reaching for Some Light  (McDougall, 16)
- Robert Ellis, "Drivin" Robert Ellis  (New West, 16)
- Sturgill Simpson, "Welcome to Earth" Sailor's Guide to Earth  (Atlantic, 16)
- Hard Working Americans, "Roman Candles" Rest in Chaos  (Melvin, 16)
- Golden Smog, "Radio King" Down By the Old Mainstream  (Ryko, 96)
^ Arliss Nancy, "Factory Smoke" Greater Divides  (Arliss Nancy, 16)  C
- Elizabeth Cook, "Methadone Blues" Exodus of Venus  (Thirty Tigers, 16)
- Jeremy Nail, "Heroes" My Mountain  (Open Nine, 16)  D
- Tony Joe White, "Rain Crow" Rain Crow  (Yep Roc, 16)
- Bonnie Bishop, "Looking for You" Ain't Who I Was  (Plan BB, 16)
- Darrell Scott, "Down to the River" Couchville Sessions  (Full Light, 16)  D
- Glossary, "Some Eternal Spark" Long Live All of Us  (Last Chance, 11)
- Esme Patterson, "No River" We Were Wild  (Grand Jury, 16)
- Honeycutters, "Blue Besides" On the Ropes  (Organic, 16)
- Rob Baird, "Ain't Nobody Got a Hold On Me" Wrong Side of the River  (Hard Luck, 16)  D
- Yarn, "Carolina Heart" This is the Year  (Redbush, 16)
- Eli "Paperboy" Reed, "My Way Home" My Way Home  (Yep Roc, 16)  D
- Kevin Morby, "Drunk and On a Star" Singing Saw  (Dead Oceans, 16)

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