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Lucinda Williams: Live from Austin, Tx 1989 (DVD, New West)

Lucinda Williams: Live from Austin, Tx 1989 (DVD, New West)

With the great Lucinda Williams due to return for long overdue concerts, it seems only right to draw attention to this DVD of her first appearance on the Austin City Limits telelvison show in 1989. It was almost 20 years ago and at the time -- although she'd released her first album a decade previous -- she was riding on the crest of her...

The Wailin' Jennys: Live at the Mauch Chunk Opera House (Shock)

The Wailin' Jennys: Live at the Mauch Chunk Opera House (Shock)

On the release of their Firecracker album a couple of years back I noted that you'd be forgiven for getting burn-out on this whole old-time country music sung authentically by people who are probably middle-class and well educated. Still, people like Gillian Welch do it so well, and you don't want to open up that whole "can white people...

Dave Rawlings Machine: A Friend of a Friend (Acony)

Dave Rawlings Machine: A Friend of a Friend (Acony)

The quiet and often largely invisible power beside Gillian Welch, guitarist/singer-songwriter Rawlings here comes into the spotlight with a collection of folk-country and alt.folk-rock songs which would mostly not fit Welch's canon but here have an understated charm of their own. They still possess some of that old time quality which has...

Karen Elson: The Ghost Who Walks (XL)

Karen Elson: The Ghost Who Walks (XL)

As you may already know, Karen Elson from England comes with a number of black marks against her on this debut album: she was a model (and no one takes them seriously, huh?) and her husband is Jack White (Stripes). Still, Carla Bruni made better albums than most would like to give her credit for -- and we shouldn't hold her marriage against...

Butcher Holler: A Tribute to Loretta Lynn (Signature)

Butcher Holler: A Tribute to Loretta Lynn (Signature)

As well-intentioned as this is -- a tribute to the country legend Loretta Lynn from a group lead by the excellent Eilen Jewel -- Lynn herself brought self-confident earthiness to her delivery of assertive songs like Fist City, Don't Come Home A-Drinkin' With Lovin' on Your Mind and You Ain't Woman Enough to Take My Man which somewhat eludes...

Frazey Ford: Obadiah (Nettwerk/Shock)

Frazey Ford: Obadiah (Nettwerk/Shock)

Ford was one of the key voices in the Be Good Tanyas, but since they have disbanded she is now out on her own with this debut solo album -- and quite some quiet piece of work it is. Things really start to grip a few tracks in when you identify the idiom: despite the banjo on the lead-off track Firecracker, this is no recreation of backwoods...

LORETTA LYNN PROFILED: Of queen and country

LORETTA LYNN PROFILED: Of queen and country

The ugliest baby I ever saw -- a pug-faced killer-midget with malevolent eyes -- was at Loretta Lynn’s place. Then again, there was plenty of ugly, kitschy, evil and just plain tacky stuff at the home of this country music legend. But I’ll be forgiving, and say that maybe the baby just looked bad in comparison with the...

Jolie Holland and the Grand Chandeliers: Pint of Blood (Anti)

Jolie Holland and the Grand Chandeliers: Pint of Blood (Anti)

This being Holland's first album since 2008's excellent The Living and the Dead, it naturally arrives much anticipated. But while some have suggested it harkens back to her style on the very popular Escondida of '04, to these ears it sounds the natural extension of its predecessor. She again has the same producer Shahzad Ismaily, her songs...

The Watson Twins: Southern Manners (Shock)

The Watson Twins: Southern Manners (Shock)

Earlier this year twins Chandra and Leigh Watson appeared with Jenny Lewis on the damn fine album Rabbit Fur Coat which was sort of neo-trad.country, if there is such a thing. Their voices were more than just counterpoint or harmony to Lewis, as this album proves. Imagine the Everly Sisters singing alt.country and pedal steel-coloured indie...

The Wailin' Jennys: Firecracker (Factor)

The Wailin' Jennys: Firecracker (Factor)

You can have too much of a good thing: like the slew of Cuban albums which followed the success of the Buena Vista Social Club. After a while it all just got too much and you lived in fear that yet another tiny record company would discover it too had a bunch of old Cubans in its back-catalogue. It's much the same with "that old-time...

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