Totally Biased Fan Review – Fruit From Crooked Trees – Dillon Warnek EEP

Fruit From Crooked Trees | Dillon Warnek

Like most people in these times, the dream was supposed to be an album, a tour with the album, all the bells and whistles. However, that didn’t happen, so Dillon grabbed what he had and put it all together. One reviewer said “It sounds homemade, and that ain’t a bad thing.”

I heard about Dillon because my friend, incredible singer/songwriter and radio host, Clint Wilson, played a couple of his songs on 3MDR, on his show with fellow fabulous singer/songwriter, Cathy Dobson. I didn’t catch his name, so I had to ask. He sounded a bit like Dylan (the one who changed his name from something more complicated to a name that was going to be Dillon, after Marshall Dillon from Gunsmoke, a tv Western, not Dylan Thomas which seemed more apt). Let’s look a bit deeper.

Tomorrow when you wake up, I’ll be gone – very Dylanesque in title and in sound. I have been a folkie since I was 3. Probably earlier, I am a 60’s child, it usually comes with the territory. I started to really enjoy country when it sounded like folk music. Whatever Dillon’s music is classed as, I just class it as good.

Look a moment longer is in the footsteps of Dylan too. I don’t see this as a bad thing. If we had more Dylans and no Kanyes we’d be better off. I have always been a huge Dylan, Kristofferson and James Taylor fan and if I compare someone to one of them, favourably, then it is the biggest compliment that I can give someone. It is probably the most country song on the album, but Dylan did his best album with Johnny Cash, Nashville Skyline.

These are beautiful songs with a gentle intensity and some meaning. Life got the best of me is interesting lyrically, Mama wanted the best for her baby but life got the best of me – clever.

Morning in Memphis follows the same path, but even more so….the voice is strongly Dylan, the mournful cry of loneliness is there and it is perfect.

The Same Old Story has probably got stronger language than Bob would have used, but with the same message and aim. From the first line – I took an arse whooping…..it settles into some sensitive and emotional lines mixed with vinegar. ‘I saw courage in a coffee cup’. It is a song of contradictions and it is amazing.

Freedom and Me is interesting, it is a talking song, full on story about a horse called Freedom.

So when that reviewer said that it sounds homemade but that ain’t a bad thing, I tend to agree. There are some false starts and random moments which may have been deliberate, but they add to the charm of this EEP. I am excited about a full on album when Covid finishes, I want to see where he goes with it and I hope he doesn’t add too much spit and polish to it.

Thanks Clint, this was a great tonic.

Tracks:

1.Tomorrow When You Wake Up I’ll Be Gone 04:28
2.Look a Moment Longer 03:04
3.Life Got the Best of Me 03:37
4.Morning in Memphis 03:28
5.The Same Old Story 03:47
6.Freedom and Me 01:47

All songs written and performed by: Dillon Warnek
Produced, Recorded, Mixed and Mastered by: Drew Carroll at Bombshelter
Artwork by: Ethan McCracken
Jamie Davis: Gut String Guitar
Kevin Black: Bass
Alex Munoz: Weissenborn Dobro on “Tomorrow When You Wake Up…” and Electric Guitar on “Morning in Memphis”
Micah Hulscher: Piano
Ryan Culwell: Singing on “Look a Moment Longer”
Jeremy Ivey: Helped confirm what was a song and what was a manifesto

Totally Biased Fan Review: Country Things Vol II – Granger Smith EEP

Country Things, Vol. 2 by Granger Smith on Amazon Music - Amazon.com

Last week, I reviewed Vol 1 which was released in September. This is Vol 2. I didn’t have to wait as long for part 2 as the others, because the second one was just released yesterday!

Granger apparently can get severe writer’s block. Not so, this year, but perhaps that is because he couldn’t do his intense road tripping, he had to do something with his time!

Guys like Granger restore my faith in the future of American Country Music. He is keeping the Golden Country Music era of the 90’s style alive but with a little nod to what is going on right now.

This volume starts fairly gently with Man Made and finishes in a big way. Man Made has some clever lyrics. The more that I listen to that song, the better I like it. It refers to all of the things that man has made, like the wheel, etc and why, but then it explains, a woman made that man.

The songs have the ethics and workings of the traditional style of country music. For example, Buy a Boy a Baseball is about teaching a kid about the simple things, work ethic, playing, getting their hands dirty and giving him a bible.

Anything Like Me is a similar kind of song, being grateful for the little things, having everything you need, not necessarily with all the frills and froth.

That’s What Love Looks Like could be an anthem for what is truly important, pure and simple love, nothing complicated, just pictures of folks together in all of love’s basic forms. It reminds me of the last scene from “Love, Actually” the movie. You could replace Love is All Around with this one and get away with it.

Where I get it from has a Kenny Chesney feel to it, a bit more up tempo and about where you were raised and how it rubs off on you.

6 String Stories – how a guy (maybe autobiographical) put down all of his thoughts and memories in a song, instead of a diary.

The last two songs feature Ed Dibbles Jnr, who also appears on the first volume.

Workaholic is actually a song titled incorrectly. I won’t spoil it for you, but it isn’t what it seems. Again, it has that Kenny Chesney upbeat feel. It is also a bit bluesy. I can imagine folks at a gig, clapping, dancing and singing along.

Diesel is more gritty, revved up country, but it is still country. And it leads to the next part of the story…..going back on the road.

1Man Made
2Buy A Boy A Baseball
3Anything Like Me
4That’s What Love Looks Like
5Where I Get It From
66 String Stories
7Workaholic (Ft. Earl Dibbles Jr.)
8Diesel (Ft. Earl Dibbles Jr.)

Totally, oh so totally, Biased Fan Review: LIVE in ISO, E.P by Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes

Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes Tour Announcements 2020 & 2021, Notifications,  Dates, Concerts & Tickets – Songkick

This is just a mini salute to one of the most talented bands in this country – if not the world. Recorded in several different ways this year, You Remind Me of Myself and I went down are recorded LIVE in ISO and Hank Williams’ (best version) classic, Blue Eyes Crying in The Rain was recorded separately and is an added treat. I have reviewed both singles in The Single Life this year, with I went down a little bit different to the normal sound of Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes, from the pen of musician extraordinaire, Damian Cafarella and a song that would go down a treat in any genre. You Remind Me of Myself is a classy piece of introspection and observation and the sort of song that you expect from Lachlan, Damian and Shaun. Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain fits Lachlan well. Maybe Fred Rose who wrote it for Roy Acuff and then it was recorded by Hank and later by Willie Nelson amongst others had some kind of crystal ball, way back when and wrote it for some bearded Aussie guy in 2020. It sure feels that way.

This is available on ITunes in this form. I am not sure if it is in hard copy, though the two singles are available that way in their original studio recordings.

Tracks:

You Remind Me of Myself

I Went Down

Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain (Live for P.B.S.F.M)

Totally Biased Fan Review: Hold On To Your Heart – Shannon Slaughter

Hold On To Your Heart

You don’t very often get 18 tracks on an album these days. This album is a mixture of Bluegrass and sweet and easy country songs. Again, I was introduced to this artist by 2RRR’s Lindsay Marr, who plays non-mainstream Bluegrass/Country on Sunday’s on his Chicken Hot Rod show. He only played a couple of tracks of Shannon’s but it was enough to get me interested.

The main song was Damn Short List of Things – which is a mixture of familiar names and relatable sentiments.

There are sad songs, finger pickin’ songs and songs that will run around in your head for a while. Sometimes he sounds a bit like Randy Travis or John Michael Montgomery, other times he is just pure Bluegrass.

As I get older, I am appreciating Bluegrass music more. I am still a folkie and I love alt. or Americana country Music, but I guess they are all related. Folk and Bluegrass have that same appeal of sad stories and songs that make you think and feel. According to one review, Shannon wrote most of the songs apart from a couple which were co-writes and there are some traditional songs, including a cute Twinkle Twinkle Little Star song.

This album is his third solo effort, having previously worked with several bands. It is so easy to listen to. One minute, you are doing a jig and the next minute, you are crying up a storm. There is a bit of gospel in there as well.

Two of his three children and his wife feature on this album too, so it is a family affair and there is a special appearance by his Mother as well.

He was raised in a North Florida town and is a holder of two degrees and teaches in Alabama. You can tell from his songs, that he has an appreciation for history and not just American History. The songs have elements of nostalgia and historical content. The musicians and the harmonies are top notch.

Stack Them Bodies High, the title track, Man He’s strong, So Were We and The Hole are all different but all great tracks. The whole album is a mixture of styles within a style and a balanced diet of uplifting and contemplative tracks.

Tracks

01. You Better Hold on to Your Heart
02. Stack the Bodies High
03. Lonesome Wind
04. Devil’s Broom
05. Man He’s Strong
06. The Hole
07. Damn Short List of Things
08. Running Kind
09. I’ll Fold My Hand
10. Daddy Sang His Youth Away
11. Death Angel
12. Getting Older
13. Blitchville
14. So Were We
15. River of Jordan
16. Columbus Stockade Blues
17. Joy Joy
18. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Lou Reid – Harmony vocals; Randy Kohrs – Resophonic Guitar, Harmony Vocals; Aubrey Haynie – Fiddle; Trevor Watson – Banjo, Harmony Vocals; Ron Inscore – Mandolin, Harmony Vocals; Matt Wingate – Mandolin; Owen Piatt – Banjo; Kameron Keller – Bass; Jason Davis – Banjo; Doug Jernigan – Pedal Steel Guitar. Heather Slaughter on Lead and Harmony vocals and two of their three children Rae and Call. Ronnie Bowman, on Lead and Harmony vocals, and Shawn Lane on Fiddle, Lead and Harmony vocals  Shannon Slaughter on Lead Guitar and Vocals.

Totally Biased Fan Review – Love Bender (Deluxe Edition) – NeillyRich EEP

NeillyRich Announce Release Date of New Album 'Love Bender' - Kix Country  Radio Network

Like many recordings this year, NeillyRich’s new production was delayed by Covid 19. Thankfully, it made it to release in time for The Kazzies! Some songs have already been released as singles, and this edition offers two bonus tracks.

I don’t have a hard copy and there is not a lot of information about, so I can’t list the credits or musicians (sorry). I do know that the title track was written by the duo and Matt Scullion…..who has been a busy boy of late!

It is certainly a mixture of songs from our favourite ANZACS. For those who don’t know, Matt is a Kiwi and Amelia is an Aussie. I have been following them for a long while, in Sydney and Tamworth…..and small and large venues. I have even been lucky enough to sit in on some interviews and I have enjoyed their online spots during COVID.

I actually was an FB friend with Amelia’s Dad before I ever knew of them! So, I have watched their progress intently and I have watched them evolve, mature and develop. They were doing a series of shows on cruises when the pandemic hit.

This album was recorded in Nashville, so it has been changed up and developed over a long period of time because of the enforced delays.

When I first met the duo, Matt seemed very traditional country in style and Amelia was more country pop. Now they are changing, mixing a little country rock and still keeping some slower songs in their repertoire.

I call this an EEP because it is less than 10 tracks and more than 4, I think that more songs may have been planned but it is hard in these times. I did read that Matt said that there is something for everyone here, and that is true. Amelia adds more sass to Firewood, in a raunchy country rock song, which has been a single.

Stop Loving You is a song which is definitely not autobiographical! I loved this song when it first came out and I still do. It is a real power ballad and a great way to start the album.

My Town is a bit funky and you can tell that Matt really digs this song. He powers through it. It is more his song than Amelia’s, where as the other songs are either more of a combined effort or with Amelia coming to the fore.

No one will be surprised to know that I.C.U. is probably my favourite on the EEP. I am infamous for liking sad and slow songs, and these two do them really well. An excellent example of the chemistry and magic of these two. Have some tissues or a hanky on hand.

Hooked on Summer is a fun, boppy song – something to dance to when we are allowed to. It definitely has a Summer feel to it.

I immediately went for the air drums and the air guitar when Hey You came on. A toe tapper and shoulder shifter, for sure. It could also be a road song.

The two bonus tracks are Heart to Heart, which is a beautiful song co-written with Drew McAlister, I think, for memory; and Behind Closed Doors, I think written with Troy Kemp. These are acoustic versions and well worth getting the deluxe edition for, they are wonderful songs.

These two are growing with every project that they take on. They are both so versatile and in many ways very different to each other, bringing truth to the old adage that opposites attract and complement each other.

I will be watching with interest as to what their next venture is. The sky is not the limit for these two.

Track Listing:

Stop Loving You

My Town

Love Bender

I.C.U.

Hooked on Summer

Hey You

Firewood

Heart to Heart (Acoustic Bonus Track)

Behind Closed Doors (Acoustic Bonus Track)

The album was recorded in a Nashville recording studio under the wing of renowned producer, Jamie Tate.

Totally Biased Fan Review: Changed – Aaron Jurd EEP

Aaron Jurd - Set Me On Fire - Daily Play MPE®Daily Play MPE®

Aaron and I had a bit of a talk at Tamworth and I saw a couple of his gigs, but I never thought that he would remember them. This is the sort of stuff that makes my heart feel good and it makes me feel that the little thing that I am doing makes sense.

This EEP (more than 4 tracks, less than 10) is just simply awesome. Aaron was one of the nicest surprises at Tamworth. I had heard his name and folks told me to listen to him, but it is always better when you get to see someone for yourself.

These songs are all fantastic. He just made it in time for the Kazzies, and I know that he had a lot more planned, but Covid has a way of stuffing up your plans. He was a lovely young man when I talked to him, but he is much more now, that I have got to hear this wonderful music and I can play it again and again. I hope that Aaron gets the right guidance and exposure.

He has a great voice and definitely ticks all of the boxes. The boy from Toronto, near Newcastle, not the Canadian one, is quite an exceptional talent.

Aaron received the award for :

APRA AMCOS & TSA

New Songwriter of the Year 2020 which is very cool!

To be honest, there aren’t many articles on Aaron. I have searched all of the usual places, and there are only little bits of info. I can only judge on what my ears hear and what my old fan knowledge tells me. This young fella is the real deal. I am very excited for him and us.

I must admit that curiosity got the better of me at Tamworth, and I went to see Aaron in between gigs that I had booked in to. I was hesitant to leave, but had to so that I could go to my other commitment, and vowed that I would catch the second half, which I did later. That is what you do when you believe in someone enough.

Aaron overs most of the best 79 types of country music here. Blues with the wonderful drinking song, Whiskey Blues, Set me on fire, piano version – slow, ballad style, hard to breathe a mid career Keith Urbanish song, If You Were Mine (my personal favourite), Changed, which has a similar vibe, wonderful songs.

This young fella has a big and bright future. I will be there backing him, you should be too. Go Aaron. I am not sure who produced it, I am guessing that Aaron wrote or co-wrote most of the songs, but it is one for you to listen to.

This guy is going places. Listen up, folks!

Track Listing

Changed

Hard to Breathe

Set me on fire

If You Were Mine

Whiskey Blues

Set Me On Fire (Piano Version)

The Single Life – 25 November, 2020

When one of your all time idols in the whole wide world unites with one of your fave duos (who happen to be her son and daughter, in law, Anne Kirkpatrick and Small Town Romance, you have to be excited and happy. I Don’t Believe you is a bottler. The type of song that you hum around the house and smile about afterwards, kudos.

Chris “Boots” Lee, was one of those artists whom I met at Tamworth several years ago, but I said before meeting him there, on facebook that I would review his album when I bought it from him. Of course, I did. Ironically, Chris and my paths have crossed significantly since. My first foray into radio was with Bob Browne’s CountryOn programme on 2GLF with Chris’s song as our theme song. I moved to Moe in Victoria, where Chris lived. All quite by coincidence and accident. This song, Blame it on the Beer is probably his best song in years. I hope that we keep on bumping into each other, Chris.

How can you go wrong with Catherine Britt? Fav’Rit Song is a very close to home song. Of course, when I listen to country music, I think of my two homes, Tamworth and the Central Coast of NSW and my new home, Mexico, alias Victoria, where I have totally connected with my country music family. I get it. I have grown up with country music – from the cradle and probably to the grave.

Totally Biased Fan Review: Alone Together Sessions – Hayes Carll

Hayes Carll - Alone Together Sessions - Amazon.com Music

A while back, one of my favourite Australian imports, Jen Mize, was raving about a bloke called Hayes Carll. To be honest, I had never heard his work, and it has only been recently, that I have had heard a few of his songs. This album, he does acoustic recordings (an artistic bow to the dreaded Covid) where he does sing his “best of” in an acoustic (Kazlike) fashion.

I guess you could describe this artist as a cross between Dylan, Gram Parsons, Townes Van Zandt,Loudon Wrainwright the 3rd, Arlo Guthrie et al on this album, at least. Which probably explains why I like this album in a nutshell.

The other piece of good taste is that he is married to one of my favourite singers of all time, Allison Moorer, who features on the album, so he really can’t go wrong.

This is a truly beautiful album. I am an acoustic chick, but aside from that obvious leaning, these songs are just sweet as. It is an album of how the songs were meant to be. There is a great cover, of a Merle song, That’s The Way Love goes with the wife, (one of my fave artists), but all of the others are Hayes songs or co-writes, done in the way that they were meant to be recorded, as far as I am concerned.

I think that the first two songs are my favourites, though all of the songs are beauties.

He sings and writes songs from the heart, stories from life, stories from the inner sanctum.

They are folk driven, bluesy, so low down and personal and honest. They are swampy, soulful and they are down to earth.

The songs drift in and out of your mind like they should, like honey, like waterfalls. They are story songs, they are tales of truth and treachery and they hit you hard when you listen well.

There’s a plethora of songs here, describing many emotions, laying it all down in simple harmonies and melodies, despite the complexity of the lyrics and depth of the layers.

I thought someone else had it sussed for this year’s International Awards….but this album throws it about a bit.

Awesome stuff.

Track Listing

1. “Arkansas Blues”
2. “Drunken Poet’s Dream”
3. “Times Like These”
4. “Bad Liver and a Broken Heart”
5. “Down the Road Tonight”
6. “That’s the Way Love Goes”
7. “KMAG YOYO”
8. “Bye Bye Baby”
9. “Sake of the Song”
10. “Beaumont”
11. “Wild As a Turkey

  1. Arkansas Blues – Flowers and Liquor (2002)
  2. Drunken Poet’s Dream – Trouble In Mind (2008)
  3. Times Like These – What It Is (2019)
  4. Bad Liver And A Broken Heart – Trouble In Mind (2008)
  5. Down The Road Tonight – Little Rock (2005)
  6. That’s The Way Love Goes – (Lefty Frizzell)
  7. KMAG YOYO – KMAG YOYO (2011)
  8. Bye Bye Baby – KMAG YOYO (2011)
  9. Sake Of The Song – Lovers And Leavers (2016)
  10. Beaumont – Trouble In Mind (2008)
  11. Wild As A Turkey – Trouble In Mind (2008)

Totally Biased Fan Review – The Otherside – Cam

Cam Readies Sophomore Album, 'The Otherside' - Country Now

I have discovered some pretty cool artists on the LIVE Grand Ole Opry shows while Covid has been happening. They try to mix the famous, infamous and newbies on these one hour shows on Saturday nights/Sunday Mornings.

So what does a country singer/songwriter have in common with someone who can sing in 14 languages, a woman who studied Psychology at university and who dreamed of being a judge? They are all the same person.

Cam was introduced to classic country by her grandparents as a child. They played Patsy, Bonnie, Willie et al. She was largely influenced by the harmonising of The Dixie Chicks and The Indigo Girls and folks like Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Randy Newman. Patsy and Ray Charles influenced her phrasing. If you combine all of those things and wonder why she wrote for Miley Cyrus (a girl has to start somewhere), then you get quite a picture.

What you have here is a woman who sings with a voice that has a crystal clear voice, writes complex songs and some relatable songs in a style which is a combination of Celtic/Country Pop/and some music which can’t quite be pigeon holed and doesn’t want to be. She has a powerful voice, so powerful that many a bear would come out of hibernation to hear her. Some of her songs sound as though they would have you twirling in an open field, others make you just want to sit and listen and contemplate.

I love the songs Forgetting (which reminds me of one of one of my heroes, Beth Neilson Chapman), Girl Like Me, What Goodbye Means (Have the tissues handy), Like a Movie and Diane.

The song Classic is such a fun hand clapping, head bopping song.

She plays around with sounds and arrangements, even though she would probably be just as effective with one style which she does so well. By changing things up, she becomes not only more versatile but more forward thinking and of course, she can appeal to a larger audience.

Five years ago, she made an album that reached the best 15 albums of the year. The break included having daughter, Lucy, last year. I think that she is an artist who will produce an album every once in a while and it will be quality over quantity.

No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1.“Redwood Tree”Camaron OchsTyler JohnsonAnders Mouridsen3:18
2.“The Otherside”OchsTim BerglingJohnsonHillary Lindsey2:55
3.“Classic”OchsJack Antonoff2:55
4.“Forgetting You”OchsJohnsonLori McKennaMitch Rowland3:04
5.“Like a Movie”OchsLindseyMcKennaLiz Rose4:03
6.“Changes”Thomas HullJohnsonMcKennaHarry Styles3:23
7.“Till There’s Nothing Left”OchsJeff BhaskerJohnsonLindsey3:15
8.“What Goodbye Means”OchsBhaskerTom KimmelMouridsen3:21
9.DianeOchsBhaskerJohnson3:32
10.“Happier For You”OchsRowlandSam Smith3:51
11.“Girl Like Me”OchsNatalie Hemby3:30
Total length:37:07

Personnel[edit]

Adapted from AllMusic.[14]

  • Jack Antonoff – acoustic bass, drums, 12-string guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, percussion, piano, background vocals
  • Chris Baldani – horns
  • Tim Berling – production (“The Otherside”)
  • Jeff Bhasker – keyboards, programming, background vocals
  • David Campbell – conductor
  • Jon Castelli – keyboards
  • Glen Duncan – mandolin
  • Peter Dyer – percussion, piano
  • Ian Fitchuk – drums
  • Mark Hill – bass guitar
  • Tyler Johnson – bass guitar, drums, electric guitar, keyboards, organ, piano, programming, synthesizer, background vocals, Wurlitzer
  • Hillary Lindsey – background vocals
  • Nick Lobel – electric guitar, percussion, programming, background vocals
  • Tony Lucido – bass guitar
  • Lindsay Marias – background vocals
  • Pat Marsh – background vocals
  • Simon Mårtensson – acoustic guitar
  • Rob McNelley – electric guitar
  • Anders Mouridsen – dobro, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano
  • Ryan Nasci – bass guitar, programming
  • Camaron Ochs – acoustic guitar, lead vocals, background vocals
  • Leroy Powell – pedal steel guitar
  • Connor Rayne – drums, percussion
  • Mitch Rowland – drums, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mallets
  • Justin Schipper – pedal steel guitar
  • Doug Showalter – acoustic guitar, electric guitar, programming, background vocals
  • Evan Smith – keyboards, saxophone
  • Harry Styles – whistle
  • Ulf Mickael Wahlgren – drums, percussion
  • Adam Weaver – background vocals

Totally Biased Fan Review: Cuttin’ Grass, Vol. 1 (The Butcher Shoppe Sessions) Sturgill Simpson

Sturgill Simpson: Cuttin' Grass Vol. 1: The Butcher Shoppe Sessions Album  Review | Pitchfork

Anybody who releases an album with 20 tracks on it these days is a hero of mine….and it is only Vol 1. Clint Black would be happy for sure! This bluegrass gem is brilliant.

One of the wonderful things about being a (small) part of a big country music family is that other artists and radio announcers give you tips on artists that you don’t know about. My dear friend, country music singer/songwriter and radio announcer, Clint Wilson put me on to this guy. Of course, I had to look up this artist. It is a wonderful album. It will be a big review because it is a big album and a terrific one.

The first thing that I read about this guy was that John Prine left him his Porsche. If a legend like John did that, then you have to accept that he is pretty special! I have read some funny comments and quotes about and by Sturgill. He is a pretty forthright fella and he has put a few noses out of joint with his frankness, but I usually like that. He’s a no B.S. kind of guy.

Yes, this album is bluegrass, but it does have some crossover country as well. There are lots of fiddles, banjos, mandolins, etc and some majorly fine pickin’.

If you look at the musos on this recording, you will know that it is going to be a class act before you press play. These songs are bluegrass versions of Simpson’s previous recordings. It is hard to see it as that, though, because they all sound so naturally apt in this genre. The fact that I hadn’t heard of his music in its original punk country form maybe a good thing, though I am curious now to hear how different it sounds in that form. I believe it would be listed as Punktry in the 79 types of country, but on this album, it is definitely bluegrass.

Within Bluegrass, there are several styles – from the more mellow tunes, with fiddles that cry to fiddles that laugh and arms that sway to feet that stomp. What is interesting, is that Simpson dabbles in all of these Bluegrass styles, converting them from Punktry and what stands strongest are the lyrics.

While he plays around with all the familiar themes of country music and therefore bluegrass, he produces some amazing lines that make the standard subjects sound like something that hasn’t been said or done before.

To quote Sturgill: “I had it in my mind for a long time that someday I want to cut as many of these songs as possible in this fashion, just organic and stripped down to the raw bones of the composition.”

“If you can’t sit down and play a song like that, it’s probably a pretty shitty song.”

Having not just endured the Covid19 world this year, but also becoming a statistic of it, and being ignored because the doctors said that he did not have it, he has survived it.

In non digital formats, this is a double album, though back in the 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s, 20 songs was considered a normal album. The hint about Clint Black before was that it has always been a beef of his that albums were reduced to 10 songs in general, these days.

Some critics say that Simpson can’t sustain the whole 20 track idea, that it faces towards the end.

I find it a fast album, actually a bit faster than some of the 10 track albums that I have listened to.

Bluegrass, in it’s fast pace form speeds through an album time anyway, which may explain why the album seems faster. Some bluegrass songs sound like a train going down a track or a truck on a highway or fast running rapids down a mountainside. Other Bluegrass songs are like gentle dances and lullabies, strings crying and strings laughing gently. There is some swaying back and forth and some hard work in the fields. Simpson covers the gammut of Bluegrass here, converting what one reviewer called his hallucinatory Americana songs to traditional magic.

The same critic professed that he has never been a straight laced country singer either, so whatever Simpson releases will be like a cosmic surprise. On the topic of surprises, this was supposed to be one, and it pretty much still was, it was just that a German fan dropped a hint that it was coming.

Most people who would tackle this variation would be tempted to throw in a couple of classic Bluegrass songs, but Sturgill strikes me as someone who doesn’t do things like “normal” artists. One of the other albums that I reviewed yesterday was produced by Simpson and it is different again.

One reviewer said: “The artists that make a difference are those who shoulder the burden of a broader musicality. Sturgill Simpson is certainly making more than one track as he passes along. ”

Sturgill calls it “a mix tape for the fans”. He paints this music canvas here with a recall of his Kentucky roots, and he makes it seem like it all comes naturally to him. Perhaps because it is his birthright, or perhaps because it was that nostalgic kick in the heart that being almost dead makes you ponder your past that made him do it……I don’t know. Whether he sticks to this format (I hope so) or goes off on another direction or back to what he was doing, it doesn’t really matter, we have this sensational piece of music memorabilia to cling to.

The whole album is great, so I am not going to start and pick out tunes – suffice to say that it is a fine mix of honey, whiskey and melted chocolate with a little bit of an unidentifiable spice.

Yee Haa!

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Sturgill Simpson.

  1. “All Around You” – 3:09
  2. “All The Pretty Colors” – 2:18
  3. “Breakers Roar” – 2:29
  4. “I Don’t Mind” – 4:29
  5. “I Wonder” – 3:14
  6. “Just Let Go” – 3:02
  7. “Life Ain’t Fair and the World Is Mean” – 2:00
  8. “A Little Light” – 1:44
  9. “Life of Sin” – 2:17
  10. “Long White Line” – 2:21
  11. “Living the Dream” – 2:30
  12. “Old King Coal” – 2:52
  13. “Railroad of Sin” – 2:12
  14. “Sitting Here Without You” – 1:55
  15. “Sometimes Wine” – 3:55
  16. “The Storm” – 2:31
  17. “Time After All” – 2:14
  18. Turtles All the Way Down” – 2:18
  19. “Voices” – 3:37
  20. “Water in a Well” – 3:46

Personnel[edit]

Per Bandcamp.[2]Musical

  • Mike Bub – upright bass
  • Stuart Duncan – fiddle, background vocals
  • Mark Howard – background vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar
  • Sierra Hull – mandolin, background vocals
  • Miles Miller – percussion, background vocals
  • Tim O’Brien – background vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar
  • Sturgill Simpson – vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Scott Vestal – banjo, background vocals

Technical

  • Richard Dodd – mastering
  • David Ferguson – producer, engineer, mixer
  • Sturgill Simpson – producer
  • Sean Sullivan – engineer, mixer