Showing posts with label Lydia Loveless. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lydia Loveless. Show all posts

Jun 18, 2018

Live Review / Kelly Willis / Annapolis, MD



by Scott Colvin

Over the years, I’ve been to a handful of Sunday matinee shows at Annapolis’ Ram’s Head on Stage and one thing I’ve learned is that many touring artists are not used to being “on” for a 1 pm performance. Don’t get me wrong, Cracker, Rhett Miller, Robyn Hitchcock, and Lydia Loveless nailed their respective performances, but all joked in their own ways about not being used to playing so early in the day (kudos to Loveless at her show opening for Cracker as she was battling the flu).

That said, country vet Kelly Willis and her terrific band didn’t seem phased at all during their stellar early afternoon performance on Sunday June 10 where fans were more likely imbibing on bloodies and screwdrivers instead of the venue’s fine selection of their own microbrews (I was definitely in the screwdriver mood on this particular day). Yeah…

Willis, touring for her wildly regarded Back Being Blue (her first solo album in 11 years) made the most of her 90 minutes on stage focusing primarily on songs from the new platter and 1999’s What I Deserve, all the while peppering in songs from her nearly 30 years in music.

The title track from her new album, “Back Being Blue” kicked off the show. It was a perfect start to highlight her aching vocals that has clearly charmed FTM Grand Poohbah Trailer, who has already publicly stated it’s one of his favorite songs of 2018. 

Willis immediately threw out a “bone” to older fans with an Easy track, the honky-tonkin’ rumbler “If I Left You” which featured killer guitar licks from guitarist/pedal steel guru Geoff Queen who spent the night seamlessly switching between electric guitar and pedal steel while adding subtle harmonies. Queen’s harmonies would come into play a few songs later during “What The Heart Doesn’t Know,” a song Willis admitted was her attempt at writing a 50s “country girl duo” song which she not only accomplished but added about her harmonist “Geoff does a good job being my back-up girl” which got a good laugh from the crowd.

Throughout her career Willis has had the good fortune to write with or perform songs from some of the finest writers in country music. She featured many in her set this afternoon including the title track to What I Deserve (Gary Louris of the Jayhawks), “Wrapped,” and “Not Forgotten You” by her husband Bruce Robison, “Sweet Sundown” by Damon Bramblett, “Find Another Fool” by Marcia Ball, and “Get Real” by John Leventhal. 

One of the funnier moments of the performance was during the introduction of the country rocker/revenge song “Take It All Out On You” which was written by her first husband Mas Palermo and current husband Bruce Robison (who at the time of the song’s inception was on “a break” with Kelly at the time). She’s told the story many times over the years while touring with Robison and it still gets a good laugh as she explains that it’s the “song that qualifies me to be a country singer.”

Willis closed out her set with the last song off her new album, “Don’t Step Away,” which had boots a-tappin’…well her boots for sure…as most in the crowd were sporting flip-flops or sandals on a balmy spring day in our pleasant drinking town with a sailing problem. 

Willis and her band triumphantly returned to the stage moments later to play What I Deserve’s “Cradle of Love” and the old-school rocker “Whatever The Wind Blows” by the legendary Marshall Crenshaw. 

Kelly Willis is one of country music’s finest artists who sadly gets overlooked. She’s not glossy, stylish, or pandering to the masses. She’s the epitome of class with a sweet temperament that wows audiences with every achingly beautiful, twangy, bittersweet vocal. Her songs can elate as much as they can rip your heart out. And you should openly and freely let them do both when experiencing her music, whether it be in a live setting or listening to her records at home, because they are simply good for one’s soul.




Editor's note: You'll never get an unbiased review outta this guy. :)

Jan 6, 2015

Kelcy Salisbury's Top 10 Albums of 2014

There was so much great music released this year that I really couldn't keep up with all of it.
You'll note this list excludes Sturgill Simpson's masterpiece, Metamodern Sounds In Country Music. Much like Jason Isbell's Southeastern last year, that album has gotten so much coverage that there's really nothing to add. It's a potentially genre redefining masterwork.

That said, these are the albums (out of what I heard this year) that topped my personal list.

 
10) Lydia Loveless - Somewhere Else
Call it alt country, call it country rock, call it whatever you like, just call it good! Loveless has a wonderfully smoky vocal quality, the music is well done, but the songwriting really sets this apart. "Verlaine Shot Rimbaud" may be a bit too obscure a literary reference for the pop-country crowd, but Loveless doesn't seem to care. She throws it all out there with a tale-it-or-leave-it attitude & that's the biggest appeal of this album that in any other year would likely be in my top-5 or better.

 
9) Shooter Jennings & Waylon Jennings - Fenixon
I will admit to being a huge Waylon Jennings fan, so just the opportunity to hear his voice on some (kind of) new tracks predisposed me to want to listen to this album. In Waylon's autobiography he mentioned that his son was a fan of 90s industrial bands such as Ministry, and that he too had developed an appreciation for that sound. Now we finally get to hear the project that a then-16 Shooter made with his father back in the 90s. It's not a country album by any stretch, it's an industrial album of mostly Waylon tunes & it works. Standout tracks include the Shooter-penned I Found The Body & White Room, but the whole thing is a really cool passion project that worked on a level I never expected.
 
 


8) Jackson Taylor & The Sinners - Live At Billy Bob's Texas
I reviewed this one earlier in the year, so I won't spend a ton of space on it other than to say that it's one of the top 3 Billy Bob's albums ever made, in my opinion. It captures the band at the height of their Rance Cox period & it's raw, real, energetic & in-your-face. Jackson's Social Distortion meets Billy Joe Shaver sound is at it's zenith here & the DVD is also killer.

 
7) John Fullbright - Songs
I got into Johns solo work a little late, though I'd seen him as a member of Turnpike Troubadours in the earliest days of that band. This isn't really a country album & it's not a folk album either. It's just an album of songs & some pretty fine ones. The One Who Lives Too Far is absolutely amazing songwriting, and the whole album is just effortlessly cool.

 

6) Stoney LaRue - Aviator
There are divorce albums & then there is this one. The most brutally honest lyrics of Stoney's career accompanied by lush, if subtle harmonies make this a beautiful yet still bold artistic statement.

 
5) Tyler McCumber Band - Saracene Sessions, Tape 2
Unfortunately this album is not yet readily available. Physical copies can be purchased through Tyler's Facebook page, but it's not on iTunes yet. That's an incredible shame because this is music that needs to be heard. Old Crow & Monsters truly stand out.
 
 


4) Micky & The Motorcars - Hearts From Above
The younger Braun brothers have made a statement that perhaps surpasses even Reckless Kelly. It's primarily an album of love songs, but retains the driving, whiskey-soaked feel of previous MMC albums. There's not a weak track; be sure to listen to the whole thing. 


I've previously reviewed the album & while I don't really have anything new to say, it's held up remarkably well through repeated listens. This one can be purchased on iTunes, luckily.

 

2) Brandy Clark - 12 Stories
(*Editor's note - This is a 2013 release but I'll let it slide since he said "best I've heard this year")
This album gives me more hope for the future of mainstream country music than anything I've heard in a while, including Kacey Musgraves. It's been covered ad infinitum in other places, so I won't go track by track, suffice to say it's hands-down the best mainstream country album I've heard all year. If you have to sample tracks check out Hungover & Take A Little Pill.

 

1) Matt Woods - With Love From Brushy Mountain
I'm a sucker for songwriting. I'll admit it. If you've got something to say, something that HAS to be said, something with some urgency to it, I'm going to listen more closely.

That said, nothing I heard all year packed the same gut-pinch intensity of Matt Woods tour-de-force, With Love From Brushy Mountain. Woods singing voice might not be for everyone, and I don't see how anybody can maintain the level of intensity that this album contains for the long term. But even if Woods never records another song, Dead Mans Blues, Lying On The Floor & the title track could be the future benchmark for intensity in songwriting. Do yourself a favor & give this one a couple of very hard listens.


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By Kelcy Salisbury

Dec 30, 2014

Farce the Music's Top 20 Albums of 2014


You were expecting something else, maybe? Metamodern Sounds in Country Music is epic. Despite there only being 9 songs on the official release (plus a bonus track), this is a big big record. Simpson takes the hard country brilliance we all loved on High Top Mountain and expands on the textures and topics. He gets weird in a few places, trippy and edgy even, but it never feels like a put on. This is where Sturgill wanted to go and he hopes we'll come along, but whatever. I'm in.

Mark Kozelek may not agree, but Lost in the Dream is an immersing record, long in listen and longer in ear-pleasing sounds. Though popular in indie rock circles, there's little about Lost in the Dream that fits that usually intentionally prickly sub-genre. It's an easy-to-listen-to, hard to quickly digest collection of atmospheric classic rock, steeped in the sounds of Dylan, Springsteen, Dire Straits and the like. Mark Koz (Sun Kil Moon) said it's "beer commercial guitar rock," but he doesn't like anything not frocked with stream of consciousness lyrics and picked on a nylon string guitar. Other detractors have called it boring, and I would have agreed after a couple of listens. Once it clicked though, Lost in the Dream burrowed its way in and stuck with me throughout the year. It's a beautiful album whose strength lies in its commitment to to a cohesive sound and an unapologetic earnestness.

 
A deep and beautiful record, as easy to enjoy on first listen as it is difficult to fully grasp on the 30th. Faucett's voice would be the clear calling card if the writing weren't so damn good as well. It's an album that sticks with you long after the final notes have faded. It sounds like nothing else released in 2014.


I lack the proper words to tell you why I love this album or why you should too. It's damn good or it wouldn't be at #4. Check the context. That's enough of a review. RIYL: Deer Tick, Bob Dylan, The Band, Jimbo Mathus.


The band goes back to their roots with fantastic results on this raucous and hedonistic trip of an album. It's billed as a look back at their career, but Most Messed Up feels far more lived-in than a simple recollection. The attitude is cocky and contagious, the partying over-the-top, the drinks frequent, and the music is rocking. They've been doing this "longer than you've been alive" and it sounds like they're still way better at it than anybody else. There's a little regret and some soul-searching but all-in-all, this is no nostalgia project - it's a reclaiming of what makes Old 97s a vital and legendary alternative country act.


Lydia blends pop sensibilities into her rockabilly side on Somewhere Else and crafts a versatile and fulfilling piece of roots-rock-pop-abilly or whatever you wanna call it. It's a well-written, liberated and enchanting performance with memorable songs that sound like hits from a world with better taste.

Darker and more focused than last year's debut from the duo, Run the Jewels 2 kicks out windshields and smacks around f**kboys, all the while sounding infinitely more intelligent and purpose-driven than most of their contemporaries. This is anarchy with reason, chaos with a plan, savagery with a heart. The interplay of El-P's off-kilter lyricism and Killer Mike's straightforward bomb-dropping makes their message hit all the harder.


Kelsey Waldon sounds more vulnerable and confessional than say, Loretta Lynn, on these 11 tracks but she's every bit as sure of herself. Hers is a sweet voice that belies a depth of realism and a spirit that forgives but never forgets. It's a world-weary but optimistic outlook that keeps The Goldmine from ever sinking into despair. It's a moving and memorable album that should easily satisfy fans of classic country and modern Americana, and make Waldon an artist to watch for years to come.


The heavier realms of metal call out to me a few times a year, and while not qualified to write about such music adequately, I inevitably end up loving some of what I come across. Pallbearer is a doom metal band, but apparently Foundations of Burden isn't true doom metal or something something blah blah I read in reviews by true metal aficionados. All I know is that I do like doom and stoner metal, and that Foundations of Burden fits right in for me. It's dark, slow, anthemic, epic and driving. Some of it sounds a little prog-rock with its endless journeying, but there's always a destination here, it's not riffing on just for the hell of it. Maybe what sets Pallbearer apart the most for me is that lead singer Brett Campbell actually has a good voice. He can't wail with the classic metal gods like Bruce Dickinson and Rob Halford, but he's certainly from that school of vocalizing.  The hypnotic 10 minute 17 second "Ghost I Used to Be" is even more epic in sound than length; it's one of my favorite songs of the year - and likely my favorite song ever from the doom metal genre. Non-metal fans probably shouldn't bother with this detour from FTM's usual fare. For the rest: throw some Iron Maiden, Rainbow, Black Sabbath and Queensryche into a blender on low-speed for reference. Amazing album - deserving of far better words written about it.


Womack sounds as assured and authentic as ever on this collection of memorable and well-chosen songs. She's a treasure and it's good to have her back, especially with such a worthy return.


Dereconstructed loudly takes on the "duality of the Southern thing" that Drive-by Truckers explored years ago on Southern Rock Opera. LBIII does it their own way: angry, political at times, and amped-up at nearly all times. The lyrics, which you may or may not be able to make out without reading the album booklet, are smart, poetic and often biting.


This is a downer of a Red Dirt country album that will leave you feeling surprisingly hopeful. LaRue tries out a variety of styles including folksy introspection, country rock, and even a little 70's-style Mellotron swoon - finding them all fitting in this deeply personal but highly relatable gem.


RIYL: Patsy Cline, Lydia Loveless.



Fire Mountain's All Dies Down harkens back to the 90s glory days of alt-country, bringing to mind the guitar pop of The Gin Blossoms, the addictive low-key melodies of Whiskeytown, and the edgy jangle of R.E.M.'s more country-leaning tunes. All Dies Down isn't stuck in that era by any means, but it certainly draws deeply from the well.




Don Williams sounds as good now as he did in his '80s heyday, maybe better. The excellent "I'll Be Here in the Morning" reassures a lover that "I'll be here for a while." God, I hope so.


Matt Woods has released his strongest album to date with With Love from Brushy Mountain. He's shaken off some of the "spot the influence" unsureness I heard in his earlier works and found his own voice and sound. This is country music filtered through rock, folk, punk, red-dirt and bar room soul and it doesn't sound like anybody else.

 
The early '90s might have been Stuart's commercial peak, but he's on the long swell of an artistic wave like none other right now. SN/SM shows off every facet of he and his expert band's absurd skill set of virtuoustic talents across an expansive collection of songs that never overstays its welcome.


Dark Night of the Soul presents all aspects of Jimbo Mathus: soul-singer, folksy storyteller, strutting rocker, country songwriter - there's little he can't do and sound masterful doing it. The most gripping thing about this record is just how little Mathus holds back. He's found his groove and is barreling headlong and breathlessly forward.

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