ROUTES & BRANCHES
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country and roots music
January 22, 2017
Scott Foley, purveyor of dust
Hope everyone enjoyed our first stab at a webcast last week. Our sophomore attempt awaits below. It's just like I'm on the radio again, except there are creepy spiders everywhere. And I need a space heater. Great Big Gracias to all the labels, promoters and artists who have continued sending stuff my way since I fell off the radio dial. As I mentioned last week, I'll have one webcast up at a time, deleting the previous as soon as a new one is available.
Fine new faire this Episode from everybody and their brother. Pieta Brown... Cory Branan... Great American Taxi. And if you're a vinyl fiend (not I ...) you'll not want to miss the opportunity to pick up some colored vinyl from New West Records' reissue of Vic Chesnutt's classic records. My favorite colored vinyl is dark black.
I enjoy quoting myself. Back in the early summer of 2014 I likened Fire Mountain's All Dies Down to Whiskeytown's Strangers Almanac. I praised the Alabama outfit's clean production, and paid special notice to the writin' 'n singin' of frontman Perry Brown. Now, This is American Music has answered by granting the man his own solo record. More of an acoustic collection, Become My Blood pares things back to focus on the songwriter's considerable gifts. The label acknowleges: Perry Brown is not a rock star. He is a husband and a new dad, a friend, a day-jobber, a church-goer, a choir singer, a designer, a maker, a bandleader, a dog lover, a balladeer and a rock-and-roller ... RIYL Joey Kneiser or BJ Barham's Rockingham, Become My Blood addresses matters of family and home, of fatherhood and good work.
"What's wrong with stable love?" Brown asks on the opener, not a sexy or a common sentiment in our kind of music that tends to view relationships under the flickering light of love gone wrong. Later, he drops the wise line, "There's no romance in being alone". Blood is a mature and clear-eyed reflection on domestic connection that recognizes not everything will be okay. Songs like the country-leaning "Closer Than I Appear" take the long view on commitment. Atop piano and strummed acoustic guitar, Brown admits that there will be times when he won't make it better, even while promising to be there during the hard times. You're the one I'm thinking of / Even when I'm stuck between my ears / ... Always know I'm closer than I appear".
We seek out "romance" in our music, but tend to understand it as a fleeting and superficial sentiment. The title cut lays a patchwork blanket beneath the stars, tracing the threads that pull together our past and our time to come. Unravel backwards / Years have formed a patchwork / Of reds and blues and greens / The yellows look as gold as gasoline. The midtempo track rides on steady shuffling drums and chiming electric guitar, with Brown's warm vocal an effortless embrace. "Too Tough" and "Pray For Me" offer a heavier, more clouded picture both musically and thematically. Both might bring to mind some of Jason Isbell's darker, more introspective work. The pair also feature some of the album's most engaging instrumental passages.
Back to "Stable Love", Become My Blood's opener. Perry Brown sketches a musical picture of the humble glories of home. His life as a recording and touring artist have paid the bills and hey, it's a living. "Pushing 30", he reaffirms his commitment to upholding his side of the domestic bargain. He's not careening recklessly along the interstate, swinging by the bars for a quick drink to dampen his demons. Rather, Brown keeps to the backroads in his serviceable truck. It's a sweet and sobering collection whose understated musical choices will sew you in with repeated listenings. Responsibility has rarely seemed so cutting edge ...
* Angelica Garcia, "Red Moon Rising" Medicine for Birds (Warner, 16)
* Jack Grelle, "Changes Never Made" Got Dressed Up To Be Let Down (Big Muddy, 16)
* JP Harris & Kristina Murray, "Golden Ring" Why Don't We Duet In the Road (Demolition & Removal, 17)
* Ags Connolly, "I Hope You're Unhappy Now" Nothin' Unexpected (At the Helm, 17)
* Jason & the Scorchers, "I Really Don't Want To Know" Fervor/Lost & Found (Capitol, 85)
* Gasoline Lollipops, "Mary Rose" Resurrection (GasPops, 17) C
* Heath Green & the Makeshifters, "Out To the City" Heath Green & the Makeshifters (Alive Naturalsound, 17) D
* Gourds, "When Wine Was Cheap" Dem's Good Beeble (Munich, 97)
* Ryan Adams, "Doomsday" Prisoner (PaxAm, 17)
* Pieta Brown, "Street Tracker" Postcards (Lustre, 17) D
* Dead Man Winter, "Destroyer" Furnace (GNDWire, 17)
* Hurray for the Riff Raff, "Hungry Ghost" Navigator (ATO, 17)
* Elvis Costello (w/Emmylou Harris), "Heart Shaped Bruise" Delivery Man (UMG, 04)
* Rodney Crowell, "It Ain't Over Yet" Close Ties (New West, 17)
* Jamestown Revival, "Done Me Wrong" Education of a Wandering Man (Republic, 16)
* Sadies, "It's Easy (Like Walking) [feat.Kurt Vile]" Northern Passages (Yep Roc, 17)
* JD McPherson, "Dimes for Nickels" Signs & Signifiers (Rounder, 11)
* Scott H Biram, "Long Old Time" Bad Testimate (Bloodshot, 17)
* Tift Merritt, "Proclamation Bones" Stitch of the World (Yep Roc, 17)
* Otis Gibbs, "Blues for Diablo" Mount Renraw (Wanamaker, 17)
* Jake Xerxes Fussell, "Have You Ever Seen Peaches" What in the Natural World (Paradise of Bachelors, 17) D
* Lone Justice, "Don't Toss Us Away" Lone Justice (UMG, 85)
* Cory Branan, "Imogene" Adios (Bloodshot, 17) D
^ Perry Brown, "Patchwork" Become My Blood (This is American Music, 17) D
* Band of Heathens, "Last Minute Man" Duende (BoH, 17)
* Great American Taxi, "All the Angels" Dr Feelgood's Traveling Medicine Show (GAT, 17) C, D
* Vic Chesnutt, "Soggy Tongues" West of Rome (New West, 91)
* Whitney Rose, "Analog" South Texas Suite EP (Six Shooter, 17) D