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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

a home to the americana diaspora  
June 18, 2016
Scott Foley

I hope I can find the courage to speak / When there's something that needs to be said / And I hope that my words won't tear us apart / But will being people closer instead
That's Joe Purdy.

As much as I badmouth folk music, if you're gonna do it you might as well do it like Joe Purdy on Who Will Be Next.  It's music that's gentle but with lyrics that can rip a jagged hole in your status quo.  The songs can be pretty, but they highlight what's ugly in our society.  It's not "come together" campfire music.  It's shine-a-rude-light-into-the-dark-crevices-of-your-soul.  Purdy's not a preacher but maybe he's a prophet.  The music on Who Will Be Next is hardly a by-the-way vehicle for his political proclamation.  Try "Kristine", which provides a momentary oasis from the record's perennial heat:  Maybe I'll play for all the people I can find / Maybe I'll write a hit song, make the big time / Maybe I'll change the world / Just like my mama say / Maybe I'll just get stoned and call Kristine.  Brings to mind the sweet, sad vignettes of John Prine.  Purdy is a prolific fellow (think this is album #14), generous with his releases that mislead with their spare arrangements and analog equipment underlying these electric, wide-awake lyrics.   Such a handbuilt approach let listeners get nearer the soul of Purdy's masterpieces.  With only an acoustic guitar and fiddle in his arsenal, he sets his sites on middle america on "Cairo Walls":  I love my country / But my country has sinned / And changes are overdue.  "New Years Day" is the collection's anthemic battle hymn, a boldly naive litany of hopes and dreams.  "Who Will Be Next" isn't so much a scathing ambush of the gun lobby as it is a personal appeal to heart.  It's too easy to simply point a finger.  The challenge and the grace comes in refocusing the issue as a personal one, reversing that accusing finger.  Purdy demonstrates the sort of soul searching that proves beyond mere rhetoric that all politics is personal.  Who Will Be Next is nothing but heart.  And the simple, steady beating pulse of the record is best heard in "Maybe We'll All Get Along Someday":  Treat me like a human / I'll treat you like the same / Maybe we'll all get along someday.

Also on this crisis of conscience that is my weekly radio broadcast, we eavesdrop on a refreshingly intimate, lo-fi moment from Tallest Man on Earth.  We are generously gifted by a new Slobberbone tribute to Old 97s from a curiously under-the-radar gem of a compilation.  There's the fantasy pairing of Dwight Yoakam and Jack White on Third Man Record's newest single, and more from a record by Big Shoals that is generating a slow burbling passion in my soul.  Like I said, it's not just a radio show.  It's good church.

- Devil Makes Three, "Drunken Hearted Man" Redemption & Ruin  (New West, 16)
- Wayne Hancock, "Your Love and His Blood" Viper of Melody  (Bloodshot, 09)
- Rachel Brooke, "Gold" World's Greatest Anchor  (Brooks Robbins, 16)
- Robbie Fulks, "Katy Kay' Upland Stories  (Bloodshot, 16)
- Matt Haeck, "Tennessee" Late Bloomer  (Blaster, 16)
- Big Shoals, "Only God Knows" Hard Lessons  (Big Shoals, 16)
- Esme Patterson, "No River" We Were Wild  (Grand Jury, 16)
- Avett Brothers, "True Sadness" True Sadness  (Republic, 16)
- Frankie Lee, "Buffalo" American Dreamer  (Loose, 16)
- Whitney, "No Woman" Light Upon the Lake  (Secretly Canadian, 16)
- St Paul & Broken Bones, "All I Ever Wonder" Sea of Noise  (Records, 16)
- William Tyler, "I'm Gonna Live Forever (If It Kills Me)" Modern Country  (Merge, 16)
^ Joe Purdy, "Kristine" Who Will Be Next  (Mudtown Crier, 16)  D
- Tallest Man on Earth, "Time of the Blue" single  (Merge, 16)  D
- Haunted Windchimes, "Sun Shining Bright" Rattle Your Bones  (Blank Tape, 16)  C
- Americans, "Right Stuff" I'll Be Yours  (Americans, 16)  D
- Band of Horses, "Country Teen" Why Are You OK  (Interscope, 16)
- Lydia Loveless, "Longer" Real  (Bloodshot, 16)
- Case/lang/Veirs, "Georgia Stars" Case/lang/Veirs  (Anti, 16)
- Slobberbone, "Melt Show" Desperate Times: Songs of the Old 97s  (Jeff Neely, 16)
- Felice Brothers, "Aerosol Ball" Life in the Dark  (Yep Roc, 16)
- John Doe, "Alone in Arizona" Westerner  (Cool Rock, 16)
- Ben de la Cour, "Walkin' 'Round With the Blues" Midnight in Havana  (Flour Sack Cape, 16)
- Mudcrutch, "Dreams of Flying" 2  (Reprise, 16)
- Western Centuries, "Philosophers and Fools" Weight of the World  (Free Dirt, 16)
- Dwight Yoakam, "Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day" single  (Third Man, 16)  D
- John Paul White, "The Martyr" Beulah  (Single Lock, 16)  D
- Birger Olsen, "Lights Just Buzz" Lights Just Buzz  (Mama Bird, 16)  D
- Sarah Watkins, "Move Me" Young in All the Wrong Ways  (New West, 16)

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