Country Music People March 2019 - Page 50

3 4 5 Albums Artists Stars F TOWNES VAN ZANDT Sky Blue TVZ Records/Fat Possum 34:29 STEVE EARLE & THE DUKES Guy New West Records 60:30 RICHARD DOBSON I Hear Singing Brambus (Switzerland) 56:46 50 cmp - MARCH 2019 our of country finest songwriter-artists: Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Steve Earle and Richard Dobson, Texas natives all, are each represented on these new releases. The late Dobson’s last album was released in January, Van Zandt’s emerges on what would be his 75th birthday, March 7th and Earle’s tribute to his mentor/former bandleader Clark on March 29th. Each album takes a different approach in their musical journey. Van Zandt goes it alone with his guitar, Dobson engages an extraordinarily delightful crew of Swiss players while Earle brings his Dukes for all tracks, limiting the Special Guests to the closer, Old Friends, written by Guy, wife Susanna and Dobson. Guy is 100% Clark songs, fourteen of them sole writes, Dobson presents thirteen originals, eight solely penned and Van Zandt sings eight of his, highlighted by two never before heard. Townes selections are all at least 46 years old, Clarks are drawn from throughout his career while Dobson’s are all of very recent vintage. Full disclosure: I wrote the liners for Sky Blue and took two of the photos. I was compensated for both. This is the first new material created and released by the Van Zandt estate, wife Jeanene and children J.T., Will and Katie Belle. It’s a reminder of why Townes was held in such high esteem by his peers, known as “the Rembrandt of country songwriters”. Sky Blue was recorded in 1973 at the Atlanta basement studio of Townes’ friend, Bill Hedgepeth. Shortly afterwards he made the recordings released years later as The Nashville Sessions and then Flying Shoes. You’ll hear Townes and his Martin delivering solo versions of the two new songs. All I Need and Sky Blue. Additionally, he sings Pancho & Lefty, The Snake Song, Rex’s Blues, The Spider Song and his most enigmatic epic, The Silver Ships Of Andilar, making its solo debut. This recording of Pancho & Lefty preceded its studio version on The Late Great Townes Van Zandt. Townes also presents a venerable Appalachian murder ballad, reworks his own Blue Ridge Mountains into a “Smoky version”, covers Tom Paxton’s classic, Last Thing On My Mind and longtime pal Dobson’s, Forever, For Always, For Certain. Sky Blue also showcases Townes’ unadorned but perfectly attuned touch. He has an unerring rhythmic sense and a clean style of flat picking that perfectly fits the lyrics and the mood they project. Listen to the foreboding feel he creates on Silver Ships Of Andilar and admire the gentle propulsion he gives Rex’s Blues, two fine examples of his six string skills. Sky Blue shows us six strikingly unique, fine songs. Townes’ Pancho & Lefty, The Snake Song, The Silver Ships Of Andilar and The Spider Song join the Paxton and Dobson covers as songs that merit repeated listenings. The release will be available in colored and black vinyl and on CD.  His publicists touted Townes as Steve’s mentor on the release of Earle’s Van Zandt tribute in 2009, a 2010 Grammy winner. While he was deeply influenced by Townes’ songwriting and persona, he was not the mentoring type. Guy Clark, however, arranged Steve’s first publishing deal, hired him to play bass in his band, then bought him a bass; I’d call that mentoring. Earle pays that debt in full as he and The Dukes present sixteen sides of Clark virtuosity. He wisely dodges loading the tracks with “name” guests, after all, This One’s For Him went down the all-star lineup path superbly, in fact Earle’s take of The Last Gunfighter Ballad from that set is included here. Shawn Camp, co-producer with Tamara Saviano for that 2011 Grammy-nominated Clark tribute, adds guitar