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

Lionsden: Songbird (usual digital outlets)

Lionsden: Songbird (usual digital outlets)

Perhaps this is more of a public service announcement for Elsewhere readers because this album by the gifted Korean musician/composer doesn't exactly shake our tree, other than admiration for the... > Read more

Various Artists: Heartland (Sony)

Various Artists: Heartland (Sony)

From time to time I am approached to write liner notes for albums, and I only ever accept those which I think are interesting -- like the collections of New Zealand psychedelic music under the... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

TONY PARSONS INTERVIEWED (2004): About a Man in the Family Way

TONY PARSONS INTERVIEWED (2004): About a Man in the Family Way

British author Tony Parsons used to take drugs with Johnny Rotten but now prefers taking his two-year old to the park and writing about families in the suburbs. He now lives the life of a... > Read more

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Tim Chaisson of the East Pointers

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Tim Chaisson of the East Pointers

At this year's Taranaki Womad back in March one of the more popular outfits was the East Pointers out of Prince Edward Island in Canada. The trio of guitars, banjo and fiddle delivered a set... > Read more