My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Tag Archives: The Whites

Album Review: Dixie Chicks – ‘Thank Heavens For Dale Evans’

The first incarnation of the Dixie Chicks comprised multi-instrumentalist sisters Emily and Martie Erwin, and sweet-voiced singers Laura Lynch and Robin Lee Macy. Their debut album was self-produced and self-released. The rawest of their work, it combines cowboy themes and bluegrass music, with quite a delicate feel.

The album opens with a cover of the joyful ‘The Cowboy Lives Forever’ which had previously been recorded by The Whites. Another delightful cover is of ‘I Want To Be A Cowboy’s Sweetheart’.

Robin Lee Macy, Martie Erwin and Lisa Brandenburg wrote the title track, a charming tribute to the classic movie cowgirl and rejoicing in life as a musician. The Erwin sisters’ playing on the track is dazzling.

It is one of three songs co-written by Macy. ‘Thunderheads’ (also written with Lisa Brandenburg) is a poetic evocation of a dry Texas summer from the point of view of a farmer’s wife:

Supper’s on the table and there’s promise in the sky
And you’re out there on your ginger mare
You’re not praying so I do
Not so much a prayer for rain
As a desperate prayer for you

Thunderheads blow across the mesa
Like a heartless lover’s lie
Thunderheads across the mountains
As another dream goes by
They go like clouds from heaven
But the devil has to have his way
Thunderheads’ll bring you to your knees
And make you pray for a rainy day

I know you can’t admit it
That you’ve lost and nature’s won
That thunderheads will blow away
Across the dying sun
So don’t try to tell me darlin’
How your heart’s lost to the land
I don’t need your explanations
I just want to hold your hand

‘Storm Out On The Sea’, written by Macy with Mary Neal Northcutt, is equally poetic about a relationship in trouble.

‘West Texas Wind’ is a lovely song written by Jon Ims set to a beautiful melody. ‘Long Roads’ has a pretty tune. The very short ‘Who Will Be The Next One’ is a pretty folky song set to an upbeat tune. ‘This Heart Of Mine’ and ‘Green River’ are also attractive songs.

A couple of well played instrumentals are thrown in.

The album foreshadows their later eclecticism with an interesting arrangement of the soul classic ‘Bring It On Home To Me’. It is almost accappella with a faint percussive and finger-clicking backing to provide rhythm. ‘Rider’ is a traditional blues song given a bluegrass reworking.

This is a very listenable album with much to please lovers of acoustic music.

Grade: A-

Advertisements

Classic Rewind: Jim Ed Brown amd the Whites – ‘Uncloudy Day’

Classic Rewind: Linda Davis and the Whites – ‘Do You Know My Jesus’

The songs starts almost three minutes in.

Classic Rewind: The Whites – ‘He Took Your Place’

Classic Rewind: The Whites – ‘I Know Who Holds Tomorrow’

Classic Rewind: Jim Ed Brown and the Whites – ‘Uncloudy Day’

Classic Rewind: The Whites – ‘This World Is Not My Home’

Classic Rewind: Ricky Skaggs and The Whites – ‘The Solid Rock’

Classic Rewind: The Whites – ‘Making Believe’

Classic Rewind: The Whites – ‘It Should Have Been Easy’

Album Review: Various Artists – ‘A Tribute To John D Loudermilk’

John D Loudermilk, a cousin of the legendary Louvin Brothers was a remarkable songwriter and artist in his own right, whose music crossed musical boundaries with eleements of country, rock and pop.
In March 2016 he was honoured by a star-studded tribute concert in Nashville, and selected performances from that occasion have now been released on CD/digital download and DVD. The concert is also set to be broadcast on PBS.

Opener ‘Everybody Knows’, performed by musician/singer/songwriter Harry Stinson, has a hypnotic 1950s pop-meets-Louvin Brothers feel. Singer-songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman delivers the teenage romance ‘Language Of Love’ in a sprightly 50s doowop pop style, also adopted by Lee Roy Parnell in a slightly bluesier fashion on ‘Mr Jones’. Another songwriter paying tribute is Bobby Braddock, who takes on ‘Break My Mind’ quite effectively, accompanied by his own piano. Norro Wilson is also pretty good on the novelty ‘The Great Snowman’.

Bluegrass legend Doyle Lawson and his band Quicksilver race through ‘Blue Train’, which works perfectly with a bluegrass arrangement. Southern rocker Jimmy Hall takes on ‘Bad News’ which again works well in this setting. Buddy Greene, mainly a Christian artist, sings the tongue in cheek story song ‘Big Daddy’s Alabama Bound’; his vocals are limited, but the arrangement is great. John McFee of the Doobie Brothers is passionate on the politically fuelled anthem to the Cherokee nation now restricted to the ‘Indian Reservation’.

Rodney Crowell also rocks it up on ‘Tobacco Road, possibly Loudermilk’s best known song; this is highly enjoyable and one of my favorite tracks. I was less impressed by his wife Claudia Church on the syncopated pop of ‘Sunglasses’.

John Jorgenson of the Desert Rose Band. Jorgenson (who helmed the whole affair) is known for his guitar playing rather than his singing, but his vocals are perfectly adequate on the rocker ‘Midnight Bus’. I very much enjoyed his Desert Rose Bandmate Herb Pederson on ‘It’s My Time’, very much in classic Desert Rose Band style. John Cowan soars on the life-affirming ‘I Wanna Live’.

Rosanne Cash is tender on the lovely ‘Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye’, another highlight. Ricky Skaggs and the Whites team up on two songs. ‘Heaven Fell last Night’ is a lovely romantic ballad sung together by Ricky and wife Sharon, while Ricky takes the lead on the fun Stonewall Jackson hit ‘Waterloo’. I also enjoyed Becky Hobbs on the country hit ‘Talk Back Trembling Lips’.

Emmylou Harris’s voice is sadly showing the signs of age, but she is well supported by the harmony vocals of Pam Rose and Mary Ann Kennedy on ‘Where Are They Gone’. 80s star Deborah Allen also sounds a little worse for wear on her song, the wistful ballad ‘Sad Movies’. Loudermilk’s son Mike doesn’t have much of a voice, but he does his best on a pleasant version of the catchy ‘Abilene’, and is backed by (his own?) delightful guitar work.

I wasn’t previously familiar with Cory Chisel and Adriel Denae, an Americana/folk duo and rela-life married couple. Their version of the part spoken airline tragedy story song ‘Ebony Eyes’ is prettily harmonised although the individual voices are not that strong. Also new to me was Beth Hooker, who delivers a sultry blues version of Turn Me On’. Guests from further afield include Australian fingerpicking guitar virtuoso Tommy Emmanuel on an instrumental track.

This is a worthy tribute which reminds the listener of both the musical breadth and quality of Loudermilk’s oeuvre.

Grade: B+

Classic Rewind: The Whites – ‘Where The Roses Never Fade’

Classic Rewind: The Whites – ‘If It Ain’t Love (Let’s Leave It Alone)’

Classic Rewind: The Whites – ‘Jesus Rock My Baby’

Classic Rewind: Sharon White – ‘It Should Have Been Easy’

Classic Rewind: The Whites – ‘If It Ain’t Love’

Classic Rewind: The Whites – ‘Forever You’

Classic Rewind: The Whites – ‘He Took Your Place’

Album Review: The Whites – ‘A Lifetime in the Making’

mi0001612026In 2000 the soundtrack to the film O, Brother Where Art Thou? came from nowhere to sell eight million copies, on the strength of the Soggy Bottom Boys’ classic rendition of “Man of Constant Sorrow.” The record went on to claim the Album of the Year Grammy and kick off a mini-revival of acoustic based sounds within country music. This was the period of time in which Nickel Creek first came to prominence and Alison Krauss saw renewed acclaim for her music. The Whites weren’t necessarily a part of this although they did contribute an excellent rendition of “Keep On The Sunny Side” to the soundtrack.

They released A Lifetime in the Making, their twelfth album, in August, just before the craze hit. The record, their only for Ricky Skaggs’ Ceili Records, was lovingly produced by Jerry Douglas. The album, which retains the acoustic feel for which they’re best known, is an impeccable collection of songs from beginning to end.

The disc kicks off with “Always Comin’ Home,” a dobro and mandolin drenched uptempo Gospel number, written by Don Gillion. They continue in this vein on “Jesus is the Missing Piece,” a mid-tempo ballad in which Buck takes over the lead vocals. “Key To The Kingdom” is stunning, with Sharon’s soaring and throaty lead vocal commanding attention.

Billy Joe Foster, a Bluegrass musician who died in 2013 aged 51, is represented with two tracks. “Texas To A T” is acoustic Western Swing while “Before The Prairie Met The Plow” is a gorgeous bluegrass ballad nodding to Midwestern sensibilities. “How Many Moons,” which was co-written by Claire Lynch, wonderfully showcases their family harmonies.

Patty Loveless originally recorded “I Miss Who I Was (With You)” on The Trouble With The Truth. Both versions are excellent and I was glad to see that Loveless’ recording retained the organic elements of the song. The Whites had the first version of “Old Hands,” another tune about farming life. I’ve never heard of Adam Brand, but he nicely covered the song two years later. Emmylou Harris joins the band for a stunning rendition of Mother Maybelle Carter’s “Fair and Tender Ladies.”

Buck White solely wrote “Old Man Baker,” a strikingly good uptempo instrumental. “Apron Strings” is an appealing ballad about the stronghold our mother will always have on our lives. The album’s final track, “The Cowboy Lives Forever,” is a breakneck uptempo number about an everyman who found his home on the Western Plains.

There truly aren’t words to describe the high quality of A Lifetime in the Making. The album is superb through and through even though it hardly breaks new ground within this style. I’ve never spent any time with The Whites, despite always knowing who they were so reviewing this album was a treat. I highly recommend it for those who may have missed it the first go-around or just want to listen to it again. You won’t be disappointed.

Grade: A

Classic Rewind: The Whites – ‘I Wonder Who’s Holding My Baby Tonight’