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 articles index

Jas Josland: See What You Did There (bandcamp/iTunes etc)

Jas Josland: See What You Did There (bandcamp/iTunes etc)

The opening bracket of songs here by newcomer and world traveller Josland are very much in the frame of buzzing and catchy indie guitar-driven pop-rock. This debut album was recorded in... > Read more

Various Artists: Fender; The Golden Age 1950-1970 (Ace/Border)

Various Artists: Fender; The Golden Age 1950-1970 (Ace/Border)

Any album which is dedicated to a brand of guitar -- no matter how legendary, as Fender is -- will always be uneven, depending on what kind of music you like. So right at the end in the ad for... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE AMBER RILEY-THOMPSON SAGA, PART THE FIRST (2003-04): A child's Christmas and wails
Oli Brown: Heads I Win Tails You Lose (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

Oli Brown: Heads I Win Tails You Lose (Ruf/Yellow Eye)

The blues goes in cycles of visibility: there were those great days of the late Forties/Fifties in the South and the early Sixties in Chicago; the British blues boom of the early/mid Sixties (John... > Read more