Thursday, March 5, 2009

the mark

Steve Earle & The Del McCoury Band - The Mountain (lala)
Buddy & Julie Miller - Written in Chalk (lala) I listened to The Mountain for the first time in a while the other night while walking the dog, and I think that album gets the new traditionalist thing so right. No illusions - Earle set out specifically to write a set of new bluegrass classics, not songs that sounded like bluegrass classics, and he succeeded. He hasn't done an album that potent since. I think he should give the protest singer thing a momentary rest and go be the frontman for the Pogues for a while, like after they kick out Shane McGowan again. Can you picture the full power of the Pogues put in service of "Copperhead Road?" C'mon.

Anyway, Written in Chalk is a lot like The Mountain in that it perfectly hits its mark of an adult-oriented, delicate, nuanced, country-but-not duet album. It would be the best album you ever bought on impulse at Starbucks, were they to sell it there. You would buy it after hearing it overshadow Jeff Buckley's version "Hallelujah" while waiting on your latte. You would pop it into the CD player of your car which is now not as cool as the car you imagined you would be driving at this age, or put it in your iPod and walk the dog, and the clouds would cross over, making the sun look like the arms of the Lord reaching out to hug all His wretched misguided children below.
Malcolm Holcolmbe - Another Wisdom (lala) Malcolm Holcolmbe is another one of the climate-changing folky types, but with his grizzled mutterings the clouds collect and darken the earth and a few more crows are in the trees than what seems normal. I saw him a number of years back at The Red Dragon (described here) and he was a much rougher thing than is presented on this record from his salad days as a Geffen prospect, not unlike Gollum after he's spent a little time with The Ring: harder to take, but a lot more real. He'll be back on at The Red Dragon on Friday, you should holler at Chris to get a seat.


  1. The Mountain: Better than a jolt of co-cola and a snickers bar. No, no, wait: better than a Mountain Dew and a snickers bar!

  2. Robert Plant? Robert Plant! Wow.

    This is great stuff.