Country Music People December 2017 - Page 38

albumreviews LEE ANN WOMACK The Lonely, The Lonesome & The Gone  All The Trouble / The Lonely, The Lonesome & The Gone / He Called Me Baby / Hollywood / End Of The End Of The World / Bottom Of The Barrel / Shine On Rainy Day / Mama Lost Her Smile / Wicked / Long Black Veil / Someone Else’s Heartache / Sunday / Talking Behind Your Back / Take The Devil Out Of Me Producer: Frank Liddell ATO 53:37 Lee Ann Womack’s ninth release continues her steady progression from noughties mainstream country star to country Americana artist. She has such presence and musical pedigree that any release is a real event. Fans whether old and new will not be disappointed. The album was recorded in East Texas and Womack says, “I wanted to get out of Nashville, and tap the deep music and vibe of East Texas. I wanted to make sure this record had a lot of soul in it, because real country music has soul. I wanted to remind people of that.” From being a staple of CMT and the country charts at the turn of the century then Womack has matured impressively and continues to be an artist who can be relied on for important and inspiring music. Like many artists of a certain vintage she is now returning to her roots, at least judging by the covers on this release. Husband, Frank Liddell, produces this record and his commercial country sensibilities are ever present. He demonstrated this in abundance on my country TURNPIKE TROUBADOURS A Long Way From Your Heart  The Housefire / Something To Hold On To / The Winding Stair Mountain Mules / Unrung / A Tornado Warning / Pay No Rent / The Hard Way / Old Time Feeling (Like Before) / Pipe Bomb Dream / Oklahoma Stars / Sunday Morning Paper Producer: Ryan Hewitt Bossier City / Thirty Tigers 39:42 38 cmp - DECEMBER 2017 album of the year – The Weight Of These Wings by Miranda Lambert - with beautiful arrangements and peerless musicianship. He can truly catch the essence of the artist. All The Trouble sets the tone for much of the album with that eerier and darker vibe. Lyrically, she’s also on the edge - “Well it started with a dirt pile, And a couple drops of rain, Then the storm and the wind, And the thunder and the lightning came, Somebody give me shelter, I’ve had all I can take.” The Lonely, The Lonesome & The Gone and Hollywood lyrically revisit a theme of recent albums: faded relationships drifting toward indifference. The arrangements are slow with an emphasis on her beautiful and expressive vocals, which are complemented with haunting slide guitar painting the bleak picture of disappointment. Shine On A Rainy Day takes us back to classic Womack with a beautiful Brent Cobb and Andrew Combs composition. It has a sweeter vocal with her Texan inflection to the fore. There are lots of things happening in the On the face of it, this is an album for me. The press release tells how Evan Felker of the Turnpike Troubadours was born in Okemah, Oklahoma and is one of its 3,000 residents. This was Woody Guthrie’s hometown and the intention is that we should regard Evan as the new Woody. Although the Turnpike Troubadours had made previous albums, I hadn’t heard them and I was trepidatious that a young singer- songwriter was being compared to Guthrie. Not to worry: this is a really good Americana album full of real life stories about tough-spirited residents with their backs to the wall who still retain their self-respect. The outstanding song is Pay No Rent which was written for his Aunt Lou’s funeral and contains the line, “You never know until the end what love is really worth.” Another song, Sunday Morning Paper, is about his Uncle Ervin, who was also a musician. Evan writes about himself and a former girlfriend in Old Time Feeling (Like Before) and how he hasn’t “made the Opry yet”, but is he likely to get there as the song continues, “I’m the same old me you know, fucking up the status quo.” arrangement but you’ll love the tune and her heartfelt reflection of a love lost. Bliss. Talking Behind Your Back is reminiscent of her 20 year old classic, The Fool. A woman to woman coffee conversation where she spills the reflections of her life carelessly in front of you. End Of The End Of The World is so Miranda Lambert with its clever lyric and wry humour that talks of a crisis averted by the return of her lover. As part of her development as an artist Womack has seven writing credits on the 14 tracks. However, there are some covers. Harlan Howard’s He Called Me Baby is a measured vocal performance with a lively backing. (Patsy Cline’s original is saturated in strings and is quite different). If Womack has talked of soul in the PR then this definitely channels her inner Dusty Springfield. She has complete creative control and this is very much how she wants to sound now. She’s in a very good place and I think you will be with this as well. Tony Ives The album opens, somewhat disturbingly, with a tragic song about a house fire, but this is deliberately wrong footing you so that you then listen attentively to what is going on. The Housefire is a very good song, showing how the protagonist was trying to remain positive in the face of disaster. The lyrics throughout are striking and original but I was less happy with the melodies. The riff running through Pipe Bomb Dream is a close cousin to Guitar Town and you can argue that it is a homage to Steve Earle, and that’s okay. The melody in The Housefire is very close to The Gambler and I would guess that we aren’t meant to pick up on that. The Winding Stair Mountain Mules is a dead ringer for Charlie Daniels’ fiddle- based rock and I would put good money that A Tornado Warning owes something to Chris De Burgh’s Waiting For The Hurricane. The Turnpike Troubadours are a fine six piece band who sound as though they would be really good in concert. They are coming to the UK in 2018. Spencer Leigh