ROUTES & BRANCHES
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country and roots music
August 20, 2017
Scott Foley, purveyor of dust
Ever have one of those weeks when the song you listen to on repeat is Fleetwood Mac's live "Silver Springs", and when you wait too long to do your ROUTES-cast and there is too much new stuff? Me too.
Not complaining. Just wanting to put it all together in a way that demonstrates more grace than the firehose-to-the-face method of delivery. The idea is that you listen to our ROUTES-cast every week, and that you listen at least a couple times. Ideally, you'll grow familiar with the new artists and the new albums and the new songs (though you'll not find "Silver Springs" below, which doesn't mean that it's not a crushingly haunting song (damn!!)). This way, you won't necessarily be overwhelmed by new stuff from White Buffalo or Dead Man Winter or even JD McPherson. F'rinstance.
I whiffed on Jeremy Pinnell's 2015 OH/KY release, and acknowledged that on my Stuff That Scott Whiffed On post late that year: "Pinnell simply gets country music; he lives and breathes it, and he probably smells like it". That's what I said. And I apparently did learn my lesson, jumping on Pinnell's new Ties of Blood and Affection as soon as Sofaburn Records generously made it available to me. It's a smart and heartfelt shot of pure and unpretentious country music.
And Pinnell should know. He opened OH/KY with "The Way Country Sounds": You lived the life I lived / You would know / The way Country sounds. He pulls no punches on the song that introduces the collection, "Ballad of 1892". He sings, My baby gets high / Walkin' the line, barely hinting at the fact that she's on that line in support of labor unions. It's a honky tonk lovesong about a relationship built on a mutual commitment to the working class. Doesn't hurt that there's some quality electric guitar here, as well as a rough and ready vocal from Pinnell.
This is his lane, Pinnell's modus operandi. He lays out a thick and satisfying country groove and tops it with lyrics not typically found rebounding off the timbers and tables of your average roadside establishment. "I Don't Believe" launches like a classic country trucking song, punctuated with pedal steel and a relentless shuffle. Then he launches into the chorus: I don't believe in a long black train / Or a lake of fire / Or a 40 day rain / But I believe we can all be free / And I know that if something's wrong / Then it's gotta be me. The sound draws you in, then sets you up for a jarring shot for the bleachers. This one's not about peace in the pews, but espouses the right life apart from church and congregation. On "The Way We See Heaven" Pinnell encourages us to recognize our family and friends as our salvation, rather than setting our sights on a ticket to the pearly gates.
Pinnell addresses politics of the domestic variety as well. "Different Kind of Love" posits that heartfelt love runs deeper than flashy jewelry and superficial gestures: She says she don't like diamonds / That's my kind of woman / These girls are hard to find / I guess you can say that I found mine / She takes good care of me / Like god split the sea / I seen her walk on the water / She makes it look so easy / It's a different kind of love ... It's a sweet and sincere gesture, a genuine ode to a rare and lasting companionship. On the loose and lazy "I'm Alright With This", the singer is at peace with his lot: I got a good woman / She got the sweetest kiss / If life don't get better / I'm alright with this. It's the kind of amazing grace that's rooted in riding the ruts of everyday life, taking for granted neither the hardships nor the blessings.
NoCo listeners should know that Jeremy Pinnell will be haunting the stage of Moe's Original BBQ at the close of this month.
- Sturgill Simpson, "Some Days" High Top Mountain (High Top Mt, 13)
- Tyler Childers, "Feathered Indians" Purgatory (Hickman Holler, 17)
- Ray Wylie Hubbard, "Rebellious Sons" Tell the Devil ... (Bordello, 17)
- David Rawlings, "Guitar Man" Poor David's Almanack (Acony, 17)
- Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer, "Silver Wings" Not Dark Yet (Silver Cross, 17)
- Moot Davis, "Here Comes the Destroyer" Hierarchy of Crows (Wilburn, 17)
- Billy Bragg, "Sleep of Reason" single (Cooking Vinyl, 17) D
- Nick Lowe, "Live Fast Love Hard Die Young" Cowboy Outfit (Yep Roc, 17)
- Ian Felice, "In the Kingdom of Dreams" In the Kingdom of Dreams (New York Pro, 17)
- Nicole Atkins, "Darkness Falls So Quiet" Goodnight Rhonda Lee (Single Lock, 17)
- Mark Olsen, "Dear Elisabeth" Spokeswoman of the Bright Sun (Glitterhouse, 17)
- David Ramirez, "Time" We're Not Going Anywhere (Sweetworld, 17)
- Wynntown Marshals, "End of the Golden Age" After All These Years (WM, 17)
- Dead Man Winter, "Careful I Think It's Loaded" Careful It's Loaded (GNDWire, 17) D
- Blank Range, "Ember in the Ash" Marooned With the Treasure (Sturdy Girls, 17)
- White Buffalo, "Avalon" Darkest Darks Lightest Lights (Unison, 17)
- Juanita Stein, "Dark Horse" America (Hand Written, 17)
- Austin Lucas, "Small Town Heart" Stay Reckless (New West, 13)
- John Murry, "Under a Dark Moon" Short History of Decay (Latent, 17)
- Ruby Force, "Church and State" Evolutionary War (Force, 17)
- Suzanne Santo, "Ghost in My Bed" Ruby Red (Soozanto, 17)
- Dead Rock West, "Boundless Fearless Love" More Love (Omnivore, 17)
- JD McPherson, "Lucky Penny" Undivided Heart & Soul (New West, 17) D
- Margo Price, "Weakness" Weakness EP (Third Man, 17)
- Charlie Parr, "I Ain't Dead Yet" Dog (Red House, 17)
^ Jeremy Pinnell, "Different Kind of Love" Ties of Blood and Affection (Sofaburn, 17)
- LeeAnn Womack, "All the Trouble" Lonely the Lonesome & the Gone (ATO, 17) D
- Joseph Childress, "Virginia Bound" Joseph Childress (Empty Cellar, 17) D
- Eilen Jewell, "It's Your Voodoo Working" Down Hearted Blues (Signature Sounds, 17) D
- Tim Barry, "Lost and Rootless" Lost and Rootless (Chunksaah, 14)