The Flatlanders: Hills and Valleys (New West)

 |   |  <1 min read

The Flatlanders: Sowing on the Mountain
The Flatlanders: Hills and Valleys (New West)

The great Flatlanders from West Texas - Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock, each one a name in their own right -- record together so infrequently that every album (they average one a decade about 40 years) is an occasion.

Unfortunately it is never quite the special occasion you wish for. This one starts with the exceptional Homeland Refugee which is as a harrowing and true reflection of hard time in contemporary America after the sub-prime mortgage crash as you'll want to hear as it reverses Woody Guthrie: "I'm leaving California for the Dust Bowl, there's nowhere else left to go . . . there's refugees behind the abandoned Texaco, we nod and know we're all the same".

And later there is strong material from the rocking The Way We Are from Gilmore to Hancock's Thank God for the Road, but material like Borderless Love (a well-intentioned Tex-Mex take on that wall between the States and Mexico) sounds limp and flat in the comparison.

Gilmore on After the Storm conjures up little of the magic he is capable of (yes, aching and lovely, but that comes easy when you have a voice like his) and Wishing for a Rainbow is yet another watery, sentimental piece. And there are more like it.

So, uneven -- as have been all their albums since that debut all those decades ago. But fans -- and there are quite rightly very many -- will find much to enjoy here. 

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music at Elsewhere articles index

The Antlers: Burst Apart (French Kiss)

The Antlers: Burst Apart (French Kiss)

The previous album by New York's Antlers -- Hospice, reviewed here -- was so impressive musically and in its conceptual ambition I'm at a loss to know why I didn't include in the Best of Elsewhere... > Read more

Spoon: Everything Hits at Once, The Best of Spoon (Matador)

Spoon: Everything Hits at Once, The Best of Spoon (Matador)

Originally out of Austin, Texas a couple of decades ago, this revolving door four-piece around singer/guitarist Britt Daniel and drummer Jim Eno started their career on the indie label Matador and... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

TIGI NESS INTERVIEWED (2003): From street warrior to natural mystic

TIGI NESS INTERVIEWED (2003): From street warrior to natural mystic

The high-rise skyline shimmers in the summer heat beyond the faded iron roofs of Auckland's inner-city suburbs. Tigi Ness sits on the back porch of his Grey Lynn home, in the foreground a tended... > Read more

THE AMBER RILEY-THOMPSON SAGA, PART THE FIRST (2003-04): A child's Christmas and wails